Loss of hearing represents more than just difficulty hearing sounds. It can lead to social isolation and depression. A new study suggests that hearing loss may also be linked to loss of memory and thinking skills.
Hearing loss and psychiatric disorders are frequently co-existent (Psychol Med. 2019 Apr;49:891-897). For example, a person who cannot participate in conversations in a social group because of hearing problems soon feels isolated. Isolation leads to loneliness and then to depression. Although, not everyone who experiences hearing loss becomes depressed or develops other psychiatric problems, the risk is higher among those with hearing loss, perhaps as high as fourfold (Psychol Med. 2019). Yet depression is not the only psychiatric disorder with a risk that is increased by problems with hearing. Cognitive impairment (dementia), anxiety disorders, and psychoses are more common among the hearing impaired.