Chances are good that you or someone you know has struggled with depression at some point. It is a common and major issue, and it has been tied to many other health conditions. One of these conditions is hearing loss; untreated hearing loss increases your risk for depression. Even when hearing loss is diagnosed and treated, it can still be linked to depression.
A recent study explored the connection between depression and other hearing conditions, specifically tinnitus and hyperacusis. People who suffer from tinnitus experience a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears. Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder characterized by an increased sensitivity to certain frequencies and volume ranges of sound. This makes it difficult for people with this condition to endure normal, everyday sounds.
In this study, the researchers focused on connections between suicidal and self-hard ideation (broadly referred to as “negative thoughts”) and the hearing disorders of tinnitus and hyperacusis. Of the individuals suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis who responded to a questionnaire regarding negative thoughts, 12.7 percent reported having negative thoughts during the past two weeks.
Based on questionnaires regarding the severity of their hearing disorder, the researchers discovered a statistically significant link between how loud patients perceived their tinnitus and how likely they were to have had suicidal or self-hard ideation over the past two weeks. In short, those with more severe tinnitus were more likely to have had negative thoughts.
Tinnitus patients who reported that their condition was detrimental to their quality of life were more likely to have had suicidal or self-hard ideation in the past two weeks as well. Furthermore, the results of the study also indicated that patients who reported negative thoughts were more likely to be suffering from depression and/or anxiety.
Because of the connection between negative thoughts and hearing disorders, audiologists must be aware that their patients may experience negative thoughts and may be struggling with mental illnesses. Based on the findings of this recent study, it is recommended that audiology practices include questionnaires regarding negative thoughts, depression, and anxiety with their regular patient intake forms. This will allow the audiologist and other appropriate staff members to assess the patient’s mental health and provide proper treatment or referrals. For example, an audiologist may refer a patient struggling with depression and negative thoughts to a psychologist or social work resource in the area.
If you have experienced suicidal or self-harm ideation, it is important that you discuss this with your health care professionals, including your audiologist. It is also essential that you discuss any other symptoms and signs of depression and anxiety, such as feelings of guilt, irritability, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, sadness, fatigue, loss of appetite, or mood swings. If you aren’t sure whom to speak with or where to turn for help with mental and emotional issues, ask your audiologist or another health care professional. They will be happy to refer to the proper resources.
To learn more about the connection between hearing disorders and negative thoughts, or to set up your next appointment with our caring audiologist, we invite you to contact us today. We are eager to serve you.