There is new research that connects hearing loss with depression among American adults. There are good reasons why depression and hearing loss can go together: When it gets harder to hear what is being said by our friends, business associates, and family members, the frequent reaction can be a choice to stay away from these interactions and avoid having to ask someone to repeat herself or to look foolish or senile. This leads to personal isolation and the onset of depression.
According to Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “We found a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression…”
The new study, by Dr. Li, is mentioned in the WebMD News from HealthDay, dated June 11, 2014. This study identified depression, particularly among women younger than age 70.
Mr. James Firman, President and CEO of the National Council on Aging is quoted in the article as follows: “It is not surprising to me that they would be more likely to be depressed. 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.”
Here at the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center, we diagnose people of all ages with hearing loss and help them regain much of their hearing after being fitted with programmable hearing aids. We see joyful responses from our clients and their families when their improved hearing increases their ability to communicate and allows them to feel less isolated.
When we are out in the community screening individuals for hearing loss, we find that hearing loss most frequently first occurs in higher frequencies in one ear; this can get progressively worse and frequently impacts both ears. These higher frequencies are most difficult to hear in noisy environments such as restaurants and sporting events.
The study referenced in this article is adding solid data to anecdotal information about hearing loss and associated depression.