A new study published by Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center finds that elderly individuals can avoid late-life depression by treating their age-related hearing loss. While the links between undertreated hearing loss and cognitive impairment or dementia have been widely researched, there are comparatively few studies that ask if hearing loss contributes to depression.
“Most people over age 70 have at least mild hearing loss, yet relatively few are diagnosed, much less treated, for this condition,” says lead author Justin S. Golub, MD, MS, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head & neck surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Hearing loss is easy to diagnose and treat, and treatment may be even more important if it can help ease or prevent depression.”
The researchers analyzed data from over 5,000 individuals, testing both their hearing health and screening for symptoms of depression. The researchers then found that the individuals with even mild hearing loss were twice as likely to have symptoms of clinical depression as those without hearing loss. The odds were even higher for individuals with more significant hearing loss. Researchers point out that the data does not provide conclusive evidence of hearing loss causing depression, as more research needs to be conducted.