Being unable to follow the conversation or keep up with friends because of your hearing loss can be frustrating. This can lead to an increase in social isolation, a precursor to depression. Understanding the link between hearing loss and depression can help prompt you to seek treatment sooner or encourage a loved one to make an appointment.
Hearing Loss & Depression Research
Numerous studies have been conducted looking at the link between hearing loss and depression.
A 2019 study looked at older adults with hearing loss. The researchers found that about one in five of the participants showed signs of clinical depression.
Another study from 2014 sought to estimate the prevalence of and risk factors for depression among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss. After examining survey data from 2005-2010, the researchers found that 11.4 percent with self-reported hearing loss had moderate to severe depression and 19.1 percent exhibited mild depressive symptoms.
Beyond Social Effects
While an increase in depression symptoms is often linked to the social aspects of hearing loss, Dr. Brian Wind thinks something else may be going on. He explains, “Those who are hearing impaired may also be sending weaker auditory signals to our brains, which means our brain has to work harder to process sounds—resulting in a loss in function in other processes such as memory. Our neural pathways may reorganize, causing our brain to change the way they function, including the areas that regulate depressive symptoms.”
Now Is the Time to Talk About Treatment
While the conversation may be uncomfortable, talking about hearing loss with your loved ones is important. Instead of trying to tell an older adult what to do, try explaining the benefits that can come from seeking treatment for their hearing loss. It may also be helpful to discuss the recent advances made in hearing aid technology; the devices on the market now are nothing like the bulky hearing aids they remember their parents or grandparents wearing.
There are a number of treatment options available, including:
- Hearing aids
- Assistive listening devices
- Auditory training
To learn more about the mental health benefits that come from treating your hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with an experienced hearing professional, contact the Hearing Zone today.