Hearing Loss is Associated with Depression

Older man wondering if his hearing loss is causing depression

A recent study found an association between hearing loss and depression among American adults.  Hearing loss is an invisible handicap and one of the most common chronic conditions later in life. Over time, a hearing loss can isolate people from friends and family. The isolation occurs because of a decreased ability to communicate.  This separation, in turn, creates consequences for the social, psychological and overall well-being of the person with the hearing loss.

Degree of Hearing loss and Depression

In the new study, the research indicated that as hearing declined, the percentage of depressed adults increased.  The increase was significant, rising from 5% among those who had no hearing problems to more than 11% in those who did.  The sole exception was those who would fall into the “deaf” category. Individuals who classified themselves as deaf were approximately half as likely to be depressed as people with excellent hearing.  The lead researcher on the team Dr. Chuan-Ming Li provided an explanation.

“One reason may be these individuals have had a different experience in their exposure and access to hearing health care. They are more likely to have been “discovered” and offered treatments like hearing aids or cochlear implants. Thus, their lower prevalence of depression may be because a higher proportion of them have had access to hearing health care services earlier.”

The study also reported a particularly strong association in women and those younger than age 70.  Unfortunately, researchers can’t yet say why women might have a stronger link between hearing loss and depression.  As a general rule, health care professionals should be aware of an increased risk for depression among all adults with hearing loss.  They may aid in improving the quality of life among people with a hearing loss by recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression.  In turn, referring patients for mental health services.

Finally, If you are experiencing signs of depression you should contact your family physician. If you have trouble hearing, contact us today, we can help.

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