People with hearing loss can be at greater risk of mental health issues and cognitive decline — so it’s great to know that by managing your hearing, you can reduce the risk of these conditions.
We’re going to explore the findings of this studies in our latest blog post, as well as understand more about the link between hearing loss and mental health — and what you can do to offset this risk.
If you’ve experienced hearing loss, then know that you are not alone. Around 3.6 million people in Australia have some hearing loss (1), ranging from mild to complete.
We’ve already known for a while that there’s a link between hearing loss and depression and cognitive function. For example, one study (2) compared a group of people with age-related hearing loss with people who had normal hearing. It found that the volume of grey matter in the brain was less in the group of people with hearing loss compared to their hearing counterparts. This left them more vulnerable to developing dementia and memory loss.
The participants with hearing loss also scored higher on anxiety scores — it stands to reason that not being able to hear and take part in everyday conversations can leave people feeling anxious and depressed.
It can also mean that people with hearing loss change their routine so they don’t have to interact with others, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
This study also mentioned tinnitus, the experience of hearing a ringing noise in one or both ears, referring to the link between tinnitus and depression.
Two recently presented studies have found that treating hearing loss in older adults slows down cognitive deterioration.
The ACHIEVE study (3) took a group of older adults aged 70-84 years with untreated hearing loss and no significant cognitive issues over a period of three years. Each participant was randomly assigned either hearing intervention in the form of hearing aids and audiological counselling or no intervention related to hearing loss.
The results found that for the group who received hearing intervention, loss of thinking and memory problems were slowed down.
Meanwhile, the ENHANCE study (4) looked at the same issue and again found that study participants who received hearing aids kept their cognitive abilities over a period of three years. Participants who weren’t offered intervention displayed a decline in their cognitive function over the same period.
These studies show that you can mitigate the risk of cognitive decline simply by getting a hearing test and investing in hearing aids if necessary.
Hearing aids have undergone multiple advancements — they’re smaller, lighter, more discreet and more sensitive than ever before and can make a real difference to every aspect of your life.
There’s a hearing aid to suit every lifestyle — and whichever you choose, you’ll not only be enhancing your hearing but protecting your mental health too.
And if you do notice any symptoms of anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions that may be linked to your hearing, be sure to confide in a family member, friend, your doctor or one of the organisations listed below.
There’s no need to suffer in silence. Book a hearing test today in one of Connect Hearing’s 300+ clinics across Australia and take that first step to better hearing and enhanced mental health.
As well as hearing tests, we can help you choose the perfect hearing aid for you. We have a full range of models available and offer advice and servicing too.
And if your hearing loss is affecting your mental health, be sure to reach out for help. Contact any of the organisations below for help and support:
- Beyond Blue
- Department of Health and Aged Care website, ‘About ear health’, 15 August 2022. https://www.health.gov.au/topics/ear-health/about
- Jafari Z, Kolb B, Mohajerani M. ‘Age-related hearing loss and tinnitus, dementia risk, and auditory amplification outcomes’, Ageing Research Reviews, Volume 56, December 2019, 100963.
- Lin, F. et al., (2023). ‘Hearing intervention versus health education control to reduce cognitive decline in older adults with hearing loss in the USA (ACHIEVE): a multicentre, randomised controlled trial’, The Lancet. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)01406-X.
- Sarant, J., et al. (2023 July 16-20). Cognitive Function in Older Adults with Hearing Loss: Outcomes for treated vs untreated groups at 3-year follow-up [Conference poster]. AAIC 2023 Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands.