Increased risk of depression in patients with acquired sensory hearing loss: A 12-year follow-up study

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Acquired sensory hearing loss (SHL) is suggested to be associated with depression. However, some studies have reported conflicting results. Our study investigated the relationship between the prevalence of SHL and the incidence of depression over 12 years of follow-up by using data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD). We sought to determine the association between SHL and subsequent development of depression and discuss the pathophysiological mechanism underlying the association.Patients with SHL were identified from the NHIRD (SHL cohort). A non-SHL cohort, comprising patients without SHL frequency-matched with the SHL patients according to age group, sex, and the year of diagnosis of SHL at the ratio of 1:4, was constructed, and the incidence of depression was evaluated in both cohorts. A multivariable model was adjusted for age, sex, and comorbidity.The SHL cohort and non-SHL cohort comprised 5043 patients with SHL and 20,172 patients without SHL, respectively. The incidences density rates were 9.50 and 4.78 per 1000 person-years in the SHL cohort and non-SHL cohort, respectively. After adjustment for age, sex, and comorbidities, the risk of depression was higher in the SHL cohort than in the non-SHL cohort (hazard ratio = 1.73, 95% confidence interval = 1.49–2.00).Acquired SHL may increase the risk of subsequent depression. The results demonstrated that SHL was an independent risk factor regardless of sex, age, and comorbidities. Moreover, a strong association between hearing loss and subsequent depression among Taiwanese adults of all ages, particularly those aged ≤49 and >65 years and without using steroids for the treatment of SHL was observed. Prospective clinical and biomedical studies on the relationship between hearing loss and depression are warranted for determining the etiopathology.

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