Bottom Line: Hearing impairment (HI) is associated with depression among American adults of all ages, especially women and individuals younger than 70 years.
Authors: Chuan-Ming Li, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., and colleagues.
Background: Depression and HI are associated with personal, societal and economic burdens. However, the relationship between depression and HI has not been reported in a national sample of U.S. adults.
How the Study Was Conducted: The authors used data on adults 18 years or older (n=18,318) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). A questionnaire was used to assess depression, and HI was measured by self-report, as well as hearing tests for adults 70 years or older.
Results: The prevalence of moderate to severe depression was 4.9 percent for individuals who reported excellent hearing, 7.1 percent for those with good hearing and 11.4 percent for participants who reported having a little hearing trouble or greater HI. Depression rates were higher in women than in men. The prevalence of depression increased as HI became worse, except among participants who were deaf. There was no association between self-reported HI and depression among people ages 70 or older; however, an association between moderate HI and depression was found in women but not in men.
Conclusion: “After accounting for health conditions and other factors, including trouble seeing, self-reported HI and audiometrically determined HI were significantly associated with depression, particularly in women. Health care professionals should be aware of an increased risk for depression among adults with hearing loss.”
(JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online March 6, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2014.42