Depression Common Among Those with Untreated Hearing Loss
the Psychiatry Advisor take:
Many adults with hearing loss fail to seek treatment for the problem leading to depression and reduced quality of life, according to researchers.
In a National Council on Aging (NCA) study that involved 2,304 people with hearing loss, depression prevalence was 50% among those did not use hearing aids. Researchers found hearing aid users were more likely to take part in social activities than those who did not — an important activity for dementia prevention.
Data from the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that on average, people who experience hearing loss wait six years from the condition's onset to seek treatment, often due to denial, vanity, and/or lack of awareness about how much their hearing is impaired.
David Myers, a psychology professor at Hope College in Michigan, presented data from the NCA study and several others on hearing loss at the 2015 American Psychological Association Convention, and called for improved efforts to treat people with hearing loss earlier.
"Anger, frustration, depression, and anxiety are all common among people who find themselves hard of hearing," said Myers.
In addition to getting hearing aid technology to those in need faster, he suggested improving provisions in public spaces to help those with hearing loss be more social, citing hearing loop systems in place in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia as effective tools in these settings. The systems enable hearing aids to function as wireless speakers, and are particularly effective in train stations and auditoriums were background noise is common.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that about 30% of U.S. adults aged older than 70 years who would benefit from a hearing aid have never used one and that only 16% of adults aged 20 to 69 years who would benefit from one have ever tried using one.
Improving access to hearing aids and making public spaces hearing aid accessible is psychologically important for those with hearing loss.