Did you know that hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition in older adults? Hearing loss doesn’t just impact quality of life, emerging research highlights that hearing loss is even associated with unipolar depression.
A 2019 literature review outlined the evidence of a relationship between hearing loss and depression:
Although prevalence estimates of depression in hearing loss vary, as many as 1 in 5 older adults experience clinically relevant depression symptoms.
There appears to be a dosage effect, as the likelihood of more persistent depressive symptoms increased in those individuals with greater degrees of hearing loss.
Both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies indicate that hearing loss is related to increased unipolar depression symptoms.
It is important to seek treatment for hearing loss as part of an overall strategy to preserve good health and a good quality of life. This includes:
Annual hearing exams by a hearing care professional.
If a hearing loss is present, be fit with hearing aids that are professionally prescribed based on the patient’s hearing loss and needs.
Encourage those communicating with someone with hearing loss to look at the person with hearing loss and avoid talking with their back faced toward them so that they can read lips and see visual cues.
We recommend physician’s offices keep personal amplifiers in the office to help as needed with face-to-face interactions.
Overall, the evidence clearly points to an association of hearing loss with clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Hearing loss is also associated with a range of other poor mental health outcomes in older adults, including anxiety and suicidal ideation, and predicts poorer cognitive functioning. Accordingly, assessment and treatment of depression in hearing loss is pertinent to promote mental well-being among older adults.
Source: Cash, S., Helmer, C., Delcourt, C., Robins, T. G., & Tully, P. J. (2019). Depression in elderly patients with hearing loss: current perspectives. Clinical interventions in aging, 14, 1471-1480.