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Turn up the sound, turn down the depression

May 24, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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Researchers found that cochlear implants may help seniors hear better and reduce their risk of depression.

Researchers conducted a prospective observational study of 113 participants age 50 and older who received hearing aids or cochlear implants. Participants completed geriatric depression scale questionnaires before receiving an assistance device, six months and 12 months later.

At the beginning of the study, depression scores tended to be lower for those receiving hearing aids than those getting cochlear implants. Over time, depression scores fell for both groups but were more significant for those with cochlear implants.

“In our study, patients who were receiving cochlear implants (and who had more severe hearing losses to begin with) had worse depressive scores at baseline than those getting hearing aids,” says senior author Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of the Center on Aging and Health at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions to Reuters Health. “Both groups showed improved depressive scores after treatment, but only the improvements in depressive symptoms in the cochlear implant group w ere significant.”

Cochlear implant GDS scores improved by 31 percent from baseline to six months and from baseline to 12 months by 38 percent. Hearing aid GDS scores improved by 28 percent from baseline to six months but were not statistically significant from baseline to 12 months. Lin suggested the difference could be explained by the fact that the cochlear implant group had more room to improve from baseline.

The study was published online ahead of print in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery.


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