World Mental Health Day: the link between ear health and mental health

World Mental Health Day: the link between ear health and mental health

Oct 09, 2019

Everyone has their ups and downs. We all have our good days and bad days. But sometimes the blues don’t fade away after a few days or a week. They linger and become more entrenched – they get worse, not better.

It can happen to anyone, but thankfully, the conversations around mental health have become more public and increasingly destigmatised.

In the past, mental health has been deeply misunderstood. But perceptions are changing. high profile campaigns such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Heads Together initiative are showing that anyone – however privileged or whatever their background – can be affected by mental health issues.

The more we talk about mental health, the easier it is to shake off the stigma and start to get help. And that’s why events like World Mental Health Day are so important. This global day of awareness, organised by the World Health Organization, takes place on the 10th of October every year. This year its focus is suicide prevention. Global suicide rates are shockingly high: one person commits suicide every 40 seconds.

Hearing health and mental health

To help mark World Mental Health Day, we want to take a closer look at the rarely discussed link between hearing loss and mental health.

There is a well-established link between cognitive decline and social isolation. Undiagnosed and untreated, hearing loss can slowly cause an individual to withdraw from social events because of isolation and frustration; sometimes even leading to depression. Older people with hearing loss are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression than those without hearing loss.

Slowly dropping out of social events can be a slippery slope to becoming isolated and depressed. Hearing aids can help those with hearing loss to re-engage with friends and family.

Hearing loss can increase your risk of developing dementia

The connection between cognitive decline and dementia was first established in 2011 following a US study by John Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging. Their findings suggested that elderly people who suffer from hearing loss are also more likely to suffer from dementia over time. Further studies have confirmed the impact that hearing loss has on a person’s psychological state – untreated hearing loss can cause changes to the brain.

In fact, the risk of dementia was found to increase in line with the severity of the hearing loss. For Alzheimer’s in particular, research has shown that for every 10 decibels of hearing loss, the risk of dementia rises by 20%.

In other words, identifying a hearing loss as early as possible could contribute significantly to slowing the onset of dementia.

Tinnitus and mental health

Tinnitus is a widespread condition: one in ten people in the UK experience tinnitus in some form, with one in twenty experiencing persistent tinnitus. It’s a frustrating and often distressing condition, and it has links to reduced mental health – tinnitus is associated with a higher occurrence of depression.

Tinnitus is often wrongly described as ‘untreatable’. It is correct to say that tinnitus is incurable, but there are treatments that can make it much easier to live with.

To find out more about treatments that can reduce the symptoms and help you live with tinnitus, pop into your nearest THCP practice. One of our knowledgeable audiologists will be happy to talk you through the options, or you can book a session with one of our regional tinnitus specialists.

Book your FREE hearing test today

The best way to deal with hearing loss is to catch it early and take action. To do that, make sure you have regular hearing tests.

If you have any concerns about your hearing or ear health, book a free hearing test with us today. Call 0800 52 00 546, book online or drop into your nearest THCP practice to get a date and time locked in.