Hearing loss associated with depression in a new study

Research

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The American Academy of Audiology reports the findings of a new study providing more evidence of a link between hearing loss and depression.

Hearing loss experts and clinicians from various teams at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, and from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CDC, Cincinnati, Ohio (USA) carried out research to estimate the prevalence of depression among adults with hearing loss and the various associated risk factors.

They based their work on a national sample including more than 18,000 people aged 18 years and older who responded through a questionnaire used to assess depression and self-reports about hearing loss (with audiometric examination for adults aged 70 years or more). The data were acquired through the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Moderate-to-severe depression (9-item Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ-9] scale giving a result greater than or equal to 10), was reported in 5% of individuals with “excellent” hearing and in 7% of people with self-reported “good” hearing. In contrast, for those who self-reported as having “a little hearing trouble or greater,” the depression rate was just over 11%. On average, women had higher depression rates than men, and the prevalence of depression increased as hearing impairment increased, except among deaf participants. Interestingly, the authors report that for people over 70, there was no link between hearing loss and depression.

In their article, Dr Li and colleagues, pointing out the relevance of their findings, concluded that, “After accounting for health conditions and other factors, including trouble seeing, self-reported hearing loss and audiometrically determined hearing loss were significantly associated with depression, particularly in women. Healthcare professionals should be aware of an increased risk for depression among adults with hearing loss.”

Source: Li CM, Zhang XH, et al. Hearing impairment associated with depression in US adults, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2010. JAMA Otolaryngology & Head & Neck Surgery. 2014 Apr;140(4):293-302; American Academy of Audiology

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