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Depression is a common and significant health problem. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the USA and might be a factor in depression. To determine whether hearing loss is associated with depressive symptoms in US adults ages 20–69 years.
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data (2011–2012) were used to assess the potential relationship between hearing loss and depression, in adults (20–69 years) who answered the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) depression screening module, with pure tone audiometry measurements, and complete information on the co-variates data (n = 3316). The degree of speech-frequency hearing loss (SFHL) and high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL) were defined as slight/mild hearing loss ⩾26–40 dB; moderate/worse hearing loss ⩾41 dB by pure tone audiometry examination.
Moderate/worse HFHL was statistically significantly associated with depressive symptoms (OR 1.54, 95% CL 1.04–2.27) when the analyses were conducted among all participants. Further stratification by gender and age groups found that moderate/worse HFHL (OR 3.85, 95% CL 1.39–10.65) and moderate/worse SFHL (OR 5.75, 95% CL 1.46–22.71) were associated with depressive symptoms in women ages 52–69 years.
Moderate/worse speech frequency and HFHL are associated with depression in women ages 52–69 years, independent of other risk factors. Hearing screenings are likely to reduce delays in diagnosis and provide early opportunities for noise prevention counseling and access to hearing aids. Health professionals should be aware of depressive signs and symptoms in patients with hearing loss.
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