When the ability to hear decreases, it may also lead to depression. Particularly women and people under the age of 70 are at higher risk of falling into a depression, caused by loss of hearing, a study from the U.S. suggests.
Hearing impairment and depression
By analysing data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, including 18,000 adults aged 18 or over, a group of researchers investigated the link between hearing impairment and depression.
Among the adults with an excellent hearing experience, 5% felt depressed. This number increased to 7% in those with good hearing. While among those with a greater hearing impairment the number of people feeling depressed rose to 11.4%. Interestingly, the deaf participants seemed nearly immune to depression with a rate of only 0.06%.
Furthermore, at any level of hearing loss, nearly 15% of women across all ages felt depressed compared to 9% of men.
Lack of communication
Even though the researchers report that the cause-and-effect relationship between hearing loss and depression is unknown, the CEO of the National Council on Ageing in the U.S., James Firman, is not surprised by the results.
“People with hearing loss, especially those who don’t use hearing aids, find it more difficult to communicate with other people, whether in family situations, social gatherings or at work.”
Based on the study, the researchers recommend that if you suspect that you have a hearing loss, you should contact a hearing health care professional and have your hearing tested.
About the study
The study was conducted by a group of researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in the U.S. and was published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery.