A research review, recently published in the journal The Gerontologist, suggests that older adults with hearing loss may be more likely than their peers without hearing difficulty to develop symptoms of depression.
Compared to people without hearing loss, the study found older adults with some form of hearing loss were 47 percent more likely to have symptoms of depression.
Hearing Loss and Depression: The Connection
For their review, researchers analyzed data from 35 previous studies with a total of 147,148 participants who were at least 60 years old.
In comments to Reuters, lead study author, Blake Lawrence, PhD, of the Ear Science Institute Australia and the University of Western Australia was quoted:
“We know that older adults with hearing loss often withdraw from social occasions, like family events because they have trouble understanding others in noisy situations, which can lead to emotional and social loneliness. We also know that older adults with hearing loss are more likely to experience mild cognitive decline and difficulty completing daily activities, which can have an additional negative impact on their quality of life and increase the risk of developing depression. It is therefore possible that changes during older age that are often described as a ‘normal part of aging’ may actually be contributing to the development of depressive symptoms in older adults with hearing loss”
–Blake Lawrence, PhD
Additionally, the researchers found that the association between hearing loss and depression didn’t appear to be influenced by ‘moderator variables’ (such as hearing aid use, for example), but noted these findings should be “interpreted with caution”.
They also noted that a limitation of their analysis included studies with varying methods of assessing hearing loss and depressive symptoms.
Source: Reuters, The Gerontologist
Blake J Lawrence, Dona M P Jayakody, Rebecca J Bennett, Robert H Eikelboom, Natalie Gasson, Peter L Friedland, Hearing Loss and Depression in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, The Gerontologist, , gnz009, https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnz009