Research has discovered that older people with age-related hearing loss experienced more depressive symptoms; the more the hearing loss, the more the risk of having symptoms of depression. The results indicate that treating age-related hearing loss, an under recognized and under treated condition among all older people, could be one method to help prevent late-life depression.
Mild hearing loss is at the very least experienced by the majority of individuals older than 70, yet relatively few of them are diagnosed or receive treatment for this condition. It’s not hard to diagnose and treat hearing loss, and treatment could be of even more importance if it’s going to help alleviate or prevent depression.
The 3rd most common chronic ailment in elderly individuals is age-related hearing loss. The condition can increase the risk of other disorders, such as dementia and cognitive impairment. There are however not many large studies investigating if hearing loss could contribute to depression in older people, especially in Hispanics, a population group in which depression could be under diagnosed due to cultural and language barriers. The study results could be applied to anybody having hearing loss even though the study focused on elderly Hispanics.
Health data from 5,239 people over age 50 was analyzed. Each individual was tested for depression and had an audiometric hearing examination, an objective method for assessing hearing loss.
It was found that those participants having mild hearing loss were about two times as likely to have depression symptoms that were clinically significant compared to those participants having normal hearing. Participants having severe hearing loss had more than 4 times the chance of experiencing depressive symptoms.
A single point in time association was looked for, so it could not be proven that hearing loss leads to symptoms of depression. That would need to be proven in a randomized trial. It is however understandable how hearing loss could lead to symptoms of depression. Individuals having hearing loss have communication difficulties and have a tendency to become more isolated socially, which is a major risk factor for depression.