Link between Depression and Untreated Hearing Loss

An excerpt from the Better Hearing Institute (BHI)

Washington, DC, September 13, 2011 — The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) announced today that in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 2-8); National Depression Screening Day (October 6); and World Mental Health Day (October 10), it is educating the public on the link between hearing loss and depression.

A growing body of research indicates that people with untreated hearing loss may be at an increased risk of depression. Studies also show that when these individuals use hearing aids, they experience significant improvements in quality of life and decreased depressive symptoms; have significantly higher self-concepts compared to individuals with hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids; and experience significant improvement in their functional health status.

“When left unaddressed, hearing loss can lead to isolation and other emotional conditions that can affect both qualify of life and mental health,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director. “BHI therefore is encouraging people to take a free, quick, and confidential online hearing test at to determine if they need a comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional.”

Depression is a serious, common, and complex illness that affects an estimated 121 million people worldwide, according to the World Federation for Mental Health. In the United States alone, major depression affects 15 million American adults, or approximately 5 to 8 percent of the adult population in a given year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports. What’s more, depression frequently co-occurs with a variety of other physical illnesses.

The link between unaddressed hearing loss and depression is compelling. For example, a large-scale study by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) found that people 50 and older with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, anger and frustration, emotional instability and paranoia, and were less likely to participate in organized social activities than those who wore hearing aids. The degree of depression and other emotional or mental health issues also increased with the severity of hearing loss.

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