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Is Depression Caused By Hearing Loss?

By Dr. Terri Lightbody


While it can’t be unequivocally stated that hearing loss causes depression, it is well-known that uncorrected hearing loss can be a major contributor to depression and also can contribute to dementia.

Studies done by Johns Hopkins Medicine and other health institutes have reported that seniors with untreated hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia than those who treat their hearing loss. When a sense, such as hearing, decreases, brain activity generally becomes less. Lessening brain activity is known to contribute to poorer cognitive function, thus may bring on depression and/or dementia. 

As hearing ability decreases, interventions such as hearing aids are vital not only for improving the hearing but also preserving the brain and its cognitive functioning. Hearing loss is the second most common complaint among Americans over the age of 55. It typically comes on slowly and becomes insidious in a person’s life. The average time it takes from the moment one notices something’s not quite right with their hearing until the time they make a decision to use intervention to help their hearing is seven years. That’s too long to allow the brain to have lessened brain activity. Hearing loss doesn’t need to become severe in order for it to be treated, even a mild hearing loss can be linked to brain atrophy in adults.

A Doctor of Audiology should monitor hearing in individuals over the age of 40. If symptoms such as depression, increasing complaints of speech understanding, asking others to repeat or even memory issues arise, a comprehensive hearing evaluation should be performed by a Doctor of Audiology.

About the author: Dr. Terri Lightbody is a nationally known Audiologist with her private practice, Hearing Specialists of DuPage, in Wheaton. Her gentle approach to personal patient care and professional expertise with over 22 years of experience sets her apart as a leader in hearing healthcare. Patients can schedule appointments for a hearing evaluation by calling (630) 580-5777.

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