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Hearing loss and depression — is there a link?
Posted by Susan Brown Good, Au.D., Doctor of Audiology on July 01, 2022
We don’t need clinical evidence to understand that hearing loss can lead to depression. It's the transitive property of addition brought to life: if a=b and b=c, then a=c.
a. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, there’s a good chance you’ll purposefully minimize or avoid social situations (because hearing is a challenge which makes socializing less fun).
b. Avoiding social situations and interactions can lead to social isolation.
c. Social isolation is linked to higher rates of depression.
Humans are social creatures, after all. So if we’re not interacting and staying engaged, the physical and mental health consequences can pile up.
But if you do need data and proof and clinical evidence (psst, we’re in the “prove it” camp, too), studies conclude the same thing.
Untreated hearing loss increases the likelihood of depression
As far back as 1999, a study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) reported that people with untreated hearing loss were “more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities” than people who treated their loss.
Then, in 2014, researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) a strong association between hearing impairment and depression among U.S. adults.
More recently, a team analyzing 35 previous studies discovered that people with hearing loss were “47 percent more likely to have symptoms of depression” compared to peers without hearing loss.
Can treating hearing loss help with depression?
So, if untreated hearing loss leading to depression is simple math, can treating hearing loss negate the results? Clinically, the data is less abundant. But a 2019 study of older adults found that the use of hearing aids was “associated with a delayed diagnosis of depression.”
Logically, however, it seems like it would. If you’re able to hear your best, interactions are easier, which should lead to less social isolation, which, if we stick with our math equation, should result in less depression.
Find out what noises you may be missing! Schedule an appointment today for a hearing consultation.