How Your Hearing Can Affect Your Mental Health

Older people who lose their hearing may face raised risk of depression

(RxWiki News) Written By Digital Pharmacist Staff

Older people with hearing loss may have a higher-than-normal risk of depression, according to a new study.

And the worse the hearing loss was, the higher the risk of depression, this Columbia University study found.

“Most people over age 70 have at least mild hearing loss, yet relatively few are diagnosed, much less treated, for this condition,” said lead study author Dr. Justin S. Golub, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head & neck surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, in a press release. “Hearing loss is easy to diagnose and treat, and treatment may be even more important if it can help ease or prevent depression.”

This study looked at more than 5,000 people who were older than 50. The study participants were enrolled in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos.

Compared to those with normal hearing, study participants with mild hearing loss were nearly twice as likely to have symptoms of depression, this study found. Severe hearing loss was tied to almost four times the risk of depression when compared to those with normal hearing.

These findings led the study authors to recommend that older patients receive hearing testing and consider treatment for hearing loss if needed.

Hearing loss is common in older people, but there are treatments. Depending on the severity and type of hearing loss you have, your health care provider may recommend a hearing aid, cochlear implant, bone-anchored hearing system or assistive listening device.

If you are concerned that you or someone close to you has hearing loss — particularly if that hearing loss could be contributing to depression symptoms — speak to your health care provider as soon as possible.

This study was published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Information on study funding sources and potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

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Review Date: 
January 12, 2019