Hearing Impairment Associated With Depression in Adults, Especially Women

imagesHearing Impairment (HI) is associated with depression in adults, especially women and individuals younger than 70 years, according to JAMA authors Chuan-Ming Li, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., and colleagues. Depression and HI are associated with personal, societal and economic burdens. However, the relationship between depression and HI has not been reported in a national sample of U.S. adults. The authors used data on adults 18 years or older (n=18,318) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). A questionnaire was used to assess depression, and HI was measured by self-reporting, as well as hearing tests for adults 70 years or older. The prevalence of moderate to severe depression was 4.9 percent for individuals who reported excellent hearing, 7.1 percent for those with good hearing and 11.4 percent for participants who reported having a little hearing trouble or greater HI. Depression rates were higher in women than in men. The prevalence of depression increased as HI became worse, except among participants who were deaf. There was no association between self-reported HI and depression among people ages 70 or older; however, an association between moderate HI and depression was found in women but not in men. After accounting for health conditions and other factors, including trouble seeing, self-reported HI and audiometrically determined HI were significantly associated with depression, particularly in women. The authors conclude that health care professionals should be aware of an increased risk for depression among adults with hearing loss. I would add that both my mother and my father-in-law have hearing issues and blast their televisions to damaging decibels. It is certainly frustrating to them when they can not hear but conversely neither, for matters of pride, will consider a hearing aide. So I have a question for the researchers. How do we get more of our hearing impaired to consider these devices and how can we make them more affordable?