(HealthDay News) — Hearing impairment (HI) is associated with depression, especially for older women, according to a study published online March 6 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Chuan-Ming Li, MD, PhD, from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, and colleagues examined the prevalence of and risk factors for depression among adults with hearing loss. Participants included 18,318 adults (aged ≥18 years) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2010.

The researchers found that the prevalence of moderate to severe depression was 4.9, 7.1, and 11.4%, respectively, for individuals with excellent hearing, good hearing, and those who reported a little trouble or greater HI. Using excellent hearing as the reference, the multivariate odds ratios for depression were 1.4 for good hearing, 1.7 for a little trouble, 2.4 for moderate trouble, 1.5 for a lot of trouble, and 0.6 for deaf, after adjustment for all covariates. After adjustment for age, sex, race-ethnicity, lifestyle characteristics, and selected health conditions, moderate HI correlated with depression among older women (odds ratio, 3.9).

“Health professionals may be better able to improve the quality of life among people with HI by recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression and referring patients for mental health services,” the authors write.

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