Depression is a disorder which affects around 350 million people on a global scale, according to the World Health Organization WHO. This mental condition is one of the leading causes of disability in the world, and is now being seen as a major contributor to the overall global burden of the disease. (World Health Organization WHO , 2012)
This condition is different from regular mood fluctuations and has the tendency to become a serious health condition if it becomes severe. There are a number of reasons which contribute to the development of depression in an individual, and hearing loss is considered to be one of the contributing factors.
Hearing Loss And Depression- The Connection
According to the statistics submitted by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders NIDCD, around 36 million Americans have been reported to suffer from hearing loss. This comprises around 17% of the adult population of the country, which is an alarming statistic in itself.
Hearing loss is attributed to being the third chronic health condition most prevalent in older adults. But statistics show that only 20% of the individuals, who can benefit from the treatment, actually opt for medical help. (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA))
Suffering from hearing loss is an individual experience, and every person responds differently to the condition. Many individuals suffering from hearing loss are known to experience conditions like depression, anxiety, frustration, and social isolation. (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)). The stress of dealing with the hearing loss, results in depression which might be moderate or severe.
Tinnitus is another type of hearing impairment which causes ringing in the ears or sounds in the head, which cause great discomfort and result in depression in an individual. The inability to comprehend and differentiate the surrounding sounds, proves to be too much stress for many, and is a causative reason for depression.
A study conducted by the National Council on Aging concluded the impact of untreated hearing loss on individuals. The survey was conducted on a sample population of 4000 adults, with hearing loss and without. The survey results showed significantly high rates of anxiety and depression in sample individuals who suffered from hearing loss, but did not wear any hearing aids. Other psychological disorders were also observed in such individuals. (Kochkin & Rogin, 2000)
Views Of Experts
The study proved to be a breakthrough and provided evidence to the fact that untreated hearing loss can and does lead to dangerous problems in aging individuals. James Firman, a PhD, shared his views on the results of this great study and said, “The study actually debunks the myth that the untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition.” (Kochkin & Rogin, 2000)
In light of this study, Bridges and Bentler have shared their views on promoting the use of hearing aids for the effective and timely treatment of hearing loss conditions. They said, “It is up to the hearing community to demonstrate that the hearing aids are necessary, not only for the improved communication, but also for the enhanced sense of well being.” (Kochkin & Rogin, 2000), (A.Bridges & Bentler, 1998)
Hearing loss needs to be treated on a priority basis to ensure protection from symptoms of depression.
This article is written by: Dr. Lori Trentacoste, head audiologist at Island Better Hearing (www.islandbetterhearing.com) All images and content in this article are the sole property of the LIAHP and Dr. Trentacoste (c) 2015, All rights reserved whereby use of this article or any content references from this article and/or other written products in this blogsite must be done with express permission from Dr. Lori Trentacoste.
A.Bridges, J., & Bentler, R. A. (1998). Relating Hearing Aid Use to Well being among Older Adults. The Hearing Journal. http://journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal/Citation/1998/07000/Relating_hearing_aid_use_to_well_being_among_older.2.aspx
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (n.d.). Untreated Hearing Loss in Adults- A Growing National Epidemic . Retrieved April 2015, from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA): http://www.asha.org/Aud/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/
Kochkin, S., & Rogin, C. M. (2000). Quantifying the Obvious:The Impact of Hearing Instruments on Quality of Life. Better Hearing and Speech Council .
World Health Organization WHO . (2012, October). Depression. Retrieved April 2015, from World Health Organization WHO: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/