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HOW OUR HEARING HEALTH IS RELATED TO MENTAL WELL-BEING?

Individuals suffering from hearing problems are more prone to social isolation, mental anxiety and depression. Lowered rate of communication is the source of discomfort for anyone who is going through untreated hearing loss. According to American scientific studies, the prevalence of depression is indeed higher in individuals who have some level of hearing impairment.
According to an April 2014 study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, 11.4% of adults troubled by hearing problems suffer from moderate to severe depression. This is significantly higher than the population who have healthy hearing experience and do not face any trouble hearing. Such individuals feel socially inadequate and thus tend to develop a low self-esteem. Hearing impairment interferes with their ability to interact freely and to be responsive whenever someone addresses them. When people cannot hear properly and every conversation sounds as a muffled group discussion, then talking becomes an everyday struggle. Such conditions increase the risk factors like depression, sleep irregularity, social awkwardness.
For old age people above 65, hearing impairment is among the most common chronic conditions associated with depression.When our hearing abilities are compromised it becomes like a disability that is invisible to the naked eye.
Compromised hearing is an invisible disability, often unnoticed or ignored even by those who suffer from it. However, hearing loss and tinnitus are widespread and it can have serious psychological repercussions for the patient.
The two major down sides that follow untreated hearing problems are cognitive decline and social isolation.

COGNITIVE DECLINE
Memory begins to decline and our cognitive capabilities are affected by untreated hearing problems. Many foreign studies have established the legitimate link between dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and poor conditions of hearing. The problem arises when the hearing centers of the brain shrink. To compensate for that, other parts of the brain which were previously devoted to other tasks step in. As a result, brain functions like problem solving, memory power, comprehensive abilities, etc. decline gradually. The other theory is that the effort that the brain puts to hear any sound or speech, tires the brain. This in turn deteriorates the condition of the brain and results in cognitive decline.

SOCIAL ISOLATION
Problems like social isolation, loneliness, miscommunication, etc. become more severe when the hearing ability of a person worsens. Even psychologists claim that anger, frustration and anxiety is very common among individuals who suffer from hearing problems. Moreover people suffering from some level of hearing loss will always hesitate to interact with a big group. They will always prefer to sit in one corner and restrict too much of communication. Such tendencies become more prominent with the passage of time and individuals thus end up isolating themselves socially.
Based on various studies and facts collated around the world, it is clear that timely treatment can reduce the risk of the mental health issues and cognitive decline associated with hearing loss. In short, early screening and treatment can help improve quality of life, relationships, communication and social function, and help seniors re-engage in life.