Mild hearing loss in later life can significantly raise the risk of depression, as people fear the loneliness of being unable to hear friends and family could see people become depressed even from slight deafness.
A study found those with mild hearing loss were far more likely to suffer depressive symptoms than those with normal hearing.
Researchers led by Columbia University in New York gave hearing tests to 5,328 people aged 50 and older, then gave them ten statements to judge their level of depression.
They rated how often they felt happy, lonely and fearful – from rarely or never to every day. They did the same for statements such as ‘I could not get going’ or ‘I was bothered by things that usually don’t bother me’.
The results show just under a third of older people without hearing loss were depressed.
The rates of depression leapt to almost 45 per cent of those with moderate hearing loss. And in people with severe hearing loss, more than 57 per cent showed signs of clinical depression. The study, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology, concluded that treatment such as hearing aids could improve their mental health.
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