Hearing loss in old age doubles risk of depression

Older people with age-related hearing loss have an increased risk of depression, research suggests.

The findings were published online in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery and suggests treatment of age-related hearing loss could be one way to head off late-life depression.

Justin Golub, lead author and assistant professor at Columbia University, said: “Most people over age 70 have at least mild hearing loss, yet relatively few are diagnoses and much less are treated.

“Hearing loss is easy to diagnose and treat, and treatment may be even more important if it can help ease or prevent depression.”

The study looked at more than 5,300 Hispanic adults over the age of 50 and researchers found the odds of having ‘clinically significant depressive symptoms’ increased by 45 per cent for every 20-dB increase in hearing loss.

Mr Golub added: “It’s understandable how hearing loss could contribute to depressive symptoms. People with hearing loss have trouble communicating and tend to become more socially isolated, and social isolation can lead to depression.

“In general, older individuals should get their hearing tested and consider treatment, if warranted.”

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