Hearing Aids Are Found to Improve Depressive Symptoms

Hearing Aids Are Found to Improve Depressive Symptoms 

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA Brain Health, Hearing Health

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA
Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)

Hearing loss affects much more than hearing. A chronic medical condition, hearing loss strains communication which has a far-reaching impact. When communication, an essential way we navigate daily life, becomes challenging; participating in the most basic activities can be difficult. This can take a toll, leading to the development of depressive symptoms which research has also shown. 

Treating hearing loss is the best way to alleviate the symptoms and improve hearing health. Hearing aids not only support hearing, but improve overall wellness and quality of living.   

Link Between Hearing Loss & Depression 

Hearing loss is associated with different conditions that impact cognitive, physical, and mental health. Research has revealed a link between hearing loss and depression. There are various studies that show the increased risk of depression for people with hearing loss experience. A few studies include: 

  • 2015 Study: included 18,318 participants, ages 18 and older who reported their hearing capacity and completed a questionnaire about depressive symptoms. Findings revealed that moderate to severe depression was:
  • 4.9% for individuals reporting excellent hearing
  • 11.4% for people who reported a little to greater hearing loss 

These findings show that depressive symptoms were more than twice as likely for people with hearing loss compared to people without. 

  1. 2009 Study: included 1511 participants, ages 70 and younger. Hearing ability was identified by hearing tests and participants also completed a questionnaire assessing mental health. Researchers found that for every drop in incremental hearing ability, the odds for: 
  • Developing moderate or severe depression increased by 5% 
  • Developing severe or very severe loneliness increased by 7%

These findings show that as hearing loss increases, the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms also increases. 

These studies are among the extensive research that investigates the adverse effects that hearing loss has on overall health. It is important to understand the toll hearing loss often takes on wellness. 

Impact of Hearing Loss on Mental Health

Hearing loss reduces a person’s ability to hear which produces a range of symptoms that disrupt daily life. These symptoms: 

  • Strain Communication: symptoms including tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing like noise in the ears), muffled sounds, needing others to speak loudly and/or slowly, asking people to repeat themselves etc. Constantly experiencing these symptoms makes it difficult to follow conversations and clearly hear everything being said. This can lead to miscommunication, missing important information, and frustration. 
  • Lead to Social Withdrawal: strained communication can make conversations unpleasant and lead people to avoid them altogether. Avoiding social interactions, activities, and engaging with others is a common experience of hearing loss. This leads to social withdrawal which means spending less time with family and friends. 
  • Depressive Symptoms: social withdrawal produces loneliness, anxiety, stress, etc. These depressive symptoms impact daily life, relationships, and health. This can effective cognitive function – as the brain and body are not being energized. Untreated hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline and conditions like dementia. 

Untreated hearing loss can worsen these symptoms which is why seeking treatment is so critical. Treating hearing loss not only improves hearing, but also alleviates depressive symptoms.  

Benefits of Hearing Aids

Studies have highlighted that hearing aids, the most common treatment for hearing loss, improve depressive symptoms. This research includes a 2015 study of 113 participants, ages 50 and older who were experiencing depression. Within six months of hearing aid use, depressive symptoms were reduced by nearly 30% for the majority of participants.  Researchers concluded that hearing aids can significantly improve depressive symptoms. Suggesting that treating hearing loss: 

  • Enhances Communication: wearing hearing aids alleviates the symptoms associated with hearing loss. People are able to engage in conversation without experiencing the confusion and disruption caused by symptoms. Being able to hear and process sound more clearly, allows people to better understand and follow conversations. 
  • Improves Relationships: people are better equipped for effective communication which nurtures healthy relationships. Having easier conversations where everyone is able to easily share and understand what is being communicated is essential for relationships.  
  • Increases Wellness: enhanced communication also allows people to participate in activities with greater ease and presence. This improves daily well-being, happiness, and quality of life!

If you are ready to experience the benefits of hearing aids, contact us today! We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we look forward to helping you hear at your best.