Hearing Loss, Depression Link Discovered By New Study

A new study suggests that there is a link between hearing loss and depression when left untreated.

According to the study, conducted by the National Council on Aging and presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference in Toronto, hearing loss sufferers are 50 percent more likely to experience depression and anxiety, the Morning Ticker reports.

National Center for Health Sciences said that people tend to wait six years from the onset of hearing loss to seek appropriate treatments, according to Psych Central. David Myers, Ph.D., a psychology professor and textbook writer at Hope College in Michigan, explained that adults experiencing hearing loss between the ages of 20 and 69 are half as likely as adults 70 years and older to use hearing aids, and only 20 percent of patients diagnosed with hearing loss actually use a hearing aid.

“Many hard of hearing people battle silently with their invisible hearing difficulties, straining to stay connected to the world around them, reluctant to seek help,” Myers said, noting that he also deals with the loss of his hearing, and didn’t start using hearing aids until he was 40.

The study, which included 2,304 people, showed that people who use hearing aids were more likely to participate in social activities on a regular basis than those who suffer without treatment.

“Anger, frustration, depression, and anxiety are all common among people who find themselves hard of hearing,” Myers continued. “Getting people to use the latest in hearing aid technology can help them regain control of their life, and achieve emotional stability and even better cognitive functioning.”

Myers, who cited another study published in the Archives of Neurology, said that hearing loss has also been connected with an increased risk in developing dementia. The sensory loss leaves people more susceptible to memory loss, according to Myers.

Hearing loop technology, which is already popular in Great Britain and Scandinavia, has been gaining momentum in the United States, with more and more public places having them installed. The hearing loops transmit sound signals directly to an in-ear hearing or cochlear implant, basically like Wi-Fi for a hearing aid. Manufacturers are also currently working on having similar devices installed in taxis and airports, as well as in the homes of people who are experiencing hearing loss.

“Making public spaces directly hearing aid-accessible is psychologically important for people with hearing loss,” Myers said.

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