Depression and Hearing Loss

young-depressed-man-cartoonThe National Council on the Aging has published a study emphasizing the need for treating hearing loss, no matter how “minor”. Dr. James Firman, the President and CEO of the National Council on Aging reports that untreated hearing loss can lead to serious consequences.

According to Dr. Firman, “The survey of 2,300 hearing impaired adults age 50 and older found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.”

Dr. Firman further states, “This study debunks the myth that untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition.” This is not new information to audiologists who regularly see patients with untreated hearing loss. Many first time hearing aid users report an increase in socialization and family interactions. Being able to be part of a conversation is refreshing and relaxing. Family members report a renewed interest in outside activities once their loved one is fit with hearing aids.

There are over 38 million Americans with hearing loss. Hearing loss is just not for older Americans. About 7% of American teens have permanent hearing loss due to noise exposure. Fortunately, many teens are “turning the volume down” on their personal listening devices. But, for some the damage is already done.

Also, fortunately, Baby Boomers are recognizing the need for hearing tests and the necessity for hearing aids. Physicians are requesting patients have a baseline hearing test at age fifty. Many Baby Boomers are finding the need for understanding conversations in meetings and social situations. They are finding that with a high frequency hearing loss they are having trouble understanding speech in a noisy situation. They often report they are withdrawing socially because it is too difficult to follow the conversations.

Depression is real. Hearing loss is real. See an audiologist and have a hearing test. If you need hearing aids, find a way to purchase them. Do not let a treatable problem rule your life.

Written and Submitted by Loleata Wigall, M.S. CCC-A, FAAA

President of Atlantic Audiology, Inc.