Hearing Loss and Depression
Many people experience depression during the holiday season
for a variety of reasons including fatigue, family tensions, and
financial limitations. Depression can affect anyone at any age,
but according to a study conducted by the Geriatric Mental Health
Foundation, 15 out of every 100 adults over the age of 65 in the
United States reported feeling depressed. One reason may be that
as people age, they experience more chronic health problems. In
1999, the National Council on Aging found that older adults who
suffered from untreated hearing loss were more likely to report
feelings of depression and anxiety than those whose hearing loss
had been treated.
If unable to hear or understand what is being said in
conversations or social situations and if unwilling to admit it,
an older person may experience increased feelings of isolation
from family and friends.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
recommends consulting a certified audiologist for a complete
hearing evaluation if a loved one consistently demonstrates the
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially when background
noise is present.
- Isolating themselves from social gatherings and public
- Watching television or listening to the radio at a much
louder volume than normal.
- Often asking for people to repeat themselves.
If these behaviors are present in one of your family members,
and a hearing loss is diagnosed, treatment can improve or
preserve the quality of life. An audiologist will determine the
best audiologic rehabilitation program including assessment of
the hearing loss, fitting of hearing aids or other assistive
devices (such as phone amplifiers), hearing aid orientation, and
counseling for family members and caregivers. An aural
rehabilitation program that helps individuals learn how to use
hearing aids and other assistive listening devices in their
environments is important for success.
If a hearing loss is discovered and treated, but does not
eliminate symptoms of depression, family and friends can seek
advice or assistance from family doctors, mental health
specialists, hospital outpatient clinics, community mental health
centers, clergy, social agencies and private clinics.
For more information on depression and hearing loss, or a
referral to an ASHA-certified audiologist, consumers may call
800-638-8255 or go to
www.asha.org. Spanish-speaking operators are available.
B-roll on aging and communication disorders is available for
broadcast stories. Members of the media may contact ASHA's
media relations office (
) for more information or help with stories.
Speech-language pathologists are the professionals who
identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems
including swallowing disorders. Their work encompasses speech
problems, such as those related to fluency, articulation, and
voice disorders, as well as issues regarding language, learning
Audiologists are hearing health care professionals who
specialize in preventing, identifying and assessing hearing
disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including
hearing aids and other assistive listening devices.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
(ASHA) is the national professional, scientific and credentialing
association for more than 127,000 audiologists, speech-language
pathologists and speech, language, and hearing scientists.