Dr. Chuan-Ming Li of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues used data involving 18,318 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. A questionnaire was used to assess depression, and hearing impairment was measured by self-reporting, as well as hearing tests for adults age 70 or older.
The prevalence of moderate to severe depression was almost 5 percent for individuals who reported excellent hearing, 7.1 percent for those with good hearing and 11.4 percent for participants who reported having a little hearing trouble or greater hearing impairment.
Depression rates were higher in women than in men. The prevalence of depression increased as hearing impairment became worse.
"After accounting for health conditions and other factors, including trouble seeing, self-reported and audiometrically determined hearing impairment were significantly associated with depression, particularly in women," the study said.
"Healthcare professionals should be aware of an increased risk for depression among adults with hearing loss."
The findings were published in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.