Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the U.S. or 18% of the population. Depression affects about 16-million adults or about six of the population. But what many people don’t know is that there is a strong link between anxiety, depression and hearing loss. In this article, we explore that link and discuss how hearing loss can lead to or worsen anxiety and depression.

It Goes Both Ways

Hearing loss is a common problem, affecting more than 48-million adults in the U.S., or about 20% of the population. But it’s not just an inconvenience; hearing loss can have a profound impact on your mental health. A study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery found that people with hearing loss are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and social isolation.

And the link goes both ways; anxiety and depression can also lead to hearing loss. A study published in The Lancet found that people with anxiety and depression are more likely to develop age-related hearing loss than those without these conditions.

The Link

But what do these three things have to do with each other? Hearing loss and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. There are a few possible explanations for the link between anxiety, depression and hearing loss.

Social Isolation

First, hearing loss can lead to social isolation, which can worsen anxiety and depression. Hearing loss can be a huge source of stress for people who experience it. Not being able to hear well or at all can make everyday tasks like communicating with others, listening to music or watching TV and even just hearing the sound of your own footsteps very difficult.

This can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration, which in turn can increase the risk for anxiety and depression. In addition, when you can’t hear well, you may avoid social situations where you feel like you will be at a disadvantage. This can make it harder to connect with friends and family and can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Cognitive Decline

Second, hearing loss can cause or worsen cognitive decline, which has been linked to anxiety and depression. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with hearing loss are more likely to experience cognitive decline than those without hearing loss.

Change How You Process Sound

Thirdly, anxiety and depression are also known to cause changes in how people process sound. As a result, people who experience these disorders may hear sounds that aren’t actually there, or they may misinterpret normal sounds as dangerous or threatening. This can further compound the feeling of isolation and make everyday tasks even more difficult.

Change in Brain Structure

And finally, the link between hearing loss and anxiety or depression may be due to changes in brain structure. A study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that people with hearing loss have changes in the brain’s white matter, which may be responsible for the link between hearing loss and anxiety or depression.

Treating Anxiety and Depression

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, it’s crucial to get help. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and ask about treatment options. It’s important to talk to your audiologist about whether hearing loss may be a contributing factor. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating anxiety or depression, but there are a variety of treatments available that can help.

Treating Hearing Loss

If you’re concerned about your hearing health, it’s essential to let your doctor know so that they can rule out any possible connections to mental health conditions. Talk to your doctor about getting a hearing test done by an audiologist. Hearing loss is treatable, and early diagnosis and treatment can help improve your quality of life.

If you are struggling with both anxiety or depression and hearing loss, there is no need to feel alone. There are many resources available to help you manage both conditions successfully. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) has a wealth of information on their website, including a directory of mental health professionals who specialize in treating anxiety and depression.

And for the treatment of hearing loss or to learn more, visit the Salyer Hearing Center website or call at Sylva: 828-586-7474, Franklin: 828-524-5599 and Murphy: 828-835-1014.

Tags: comorbidities, hearing loss & anxiety