Could hearing loss lead to mental illness?

Could hearing loss lead to mental illness?

Study shows 50 percent of people who do not see help for hearing loss risk depression.

Depression and other cognitive issues result from untreated hearing loss, says a report released at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference in Toronto.

Several studies, showing that failure to seek treatment often leads to other mental issues as hearing gets progressively worse, are cited in a presentation at the conference.

New technology such as hearing loops, and making hearing loss sufferers aware of modern hearing aid developments, can alter the progression of the condition, say the presenters.

People usually wait an average of six years from the onset of hearing loss to seek medical treatment, most often because they are unsure of the symptoms or are unwilling to seek medical assistance.  Sufferers between 20 and 69 years of age were less than half as likely to seek assistance as those 70 and older, due to reasons like vanity, denial, or being unaware of treatment.

Those who don’t wear hearing aids are 50 percent more likely to suffer from sadness and depression said the study of more than 2,300 subjects.  Earlier studies show that as hearing loss worsens, the risk of cognitive issues like dementia increases.

The researchers suggest that not being able to function socially compounds the increased risk.  People who have difficulty communicating in social settings tend to avoid them and stay home more often, or do not participate with groups.  They also noted that anger, frustration and anxiety are commonly found among the hard of hearing sector.

Hearing loop technology has been gaining ground in the U.S recently.  Hearing loops in public places transmit sound signals directly to an in-ear hearing or cochlear implant, making it easier for those with hearing loss to function.  Manufacturers have begun making devices to use in areas like taxis and airports, as well as in the home TV room.

Hearing loops are sort of like Wi-Fi for hearing aids.  As they become more widespread, the hope is more hearing loss sufferers will take advantage of the new technology becoming commonplace and seek help earlier, thus avoiding long term complications.



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