Mental Health and hearing loss

Mental Health and hearing loss
It’s Mental Health awareness week here in Australia and many programs on television and radio are geared to the issues of Mental Health.

In 2011 a study made a link between hearing loss and Alzheimers. Older adults who experienced hearing loss were more likely to develop dementia including Alzheimers. (WebMD) Another study by AARP The Magazine in 2013 also came to similar findings. Whether the hearing loss causes the dementia or whether it is an early indication of dementia doesn’t seem clear.

A good question asked on Facebook this week was “Do Cochlear Implantees have a lower incidence of diseases such as Alzheimers?” The premise was that since we implantees have to try harder all of the time, using our brain more just to hear that perhaps this is keeping our brains healthier. I don’t have an answer to this question and I doubt very much there is any research which has looked into it, probably because Cochlear implants are too recent for enough people to have reached the age of acquiring Alzheimers or other types of dementia for a statistical analysis to be worthwhile. But it would be an interesting study don’t you think?

One of the biggest issues being dealt with in this Mental Health week is Depression. Around 5% of people suffer from this at any one time and about 50% of people will experience it in their life. According to research Depression is the second highest reason for disability.

To those of us who suffer hearing loss it probably comes as no surprise that there is a link between hearing loss and depression. In early 2014 the US Department of Health (NIH) researcher found there is a ‘strong association between hearing impairment and depression among US adults of all ages, particularly Women.’ Depression was moderate to severe and almost double that of the hearing population.

Rates of depression increase if the hearing loss is untreated and as the hearing loss progresses. The research found it was because of increased difficulty in communication, so those with a hearing loss found it harder to be with others and became socially isolated. (No surprises there do you think!)

Wearing a hearing aid lessens depression and anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that where Cochlear Implants provide excellent outcomes wearers suffer less from depression. For me, having a Cochlear Implant lifted my depression entirely. Once again I was back in the world. The sense of being out of control was gone and I could cope, be independent, contributing at work and home.

References WebMD web-site, NIH web-site

You Should Also Read:
Avoiding Depression
How will going deaf affect me?
Imagine being deaf for one day

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