Hearing Loss and Depression

Many people experience depression during the holiday season for a variety of reasons including fatigue, family tensions, and financial limitations. Depression can affect anyone at any age, but according to a study conducted by the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, 15 out of every 100 adults over the age of 65 in the United States reported feeling depressed.

One reason may be that as people age, they experience more chronic health problems. In 1999, the National Council on Aging found that older adults who suffered from untreated hearing loss were more likely to report feelings of depression and anxiety than those whose hearing loss had been treated.

If unable to hear or understand what is being said in conversation or social situations and if unwilling to admit it, an older person may experience increased feelings of isolation from family and friends.

Ask for a complete hearing evaluation if a loved one consistently demonstrates the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty understanding speech, especially when background noise is present.
  • Isolating themselves from social gatherings and public situations.
  • Watching television or listening to the radio at a much louder volume than normal.
  • Often asking for people to repeat themselves.

If these behaviors are present in one of your family members, and a hearing loss is diagnosed, treatment can improve or preserve the quality of life. A hearing health care professional can determine the best rehabilitation program including assessment of the hearing loss, fitting of hearing aids or other assistive devices (such as phone amplifiers), hearing aid orientation, and counseling for family members and caregivers. An aural rehabilitation program that helps individuals learn how to use hearing aids and other assistive listening devices in their environments is important for success.

If a hearing loss is discovered and treated, but does not eliminate symptoms of depression, family and friends can seek advice or assistance from family doctors, mental health specialists, hospital outpatient clinics, community mental health center, clergy, social agencies and private clinics.

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