How Does Hearing Loss Lead to Depression?
Depression can affect any gender and race, as well as affecting people of a wide range of ages. While many people know that anxiety and stress are possible contributing factors to hearing loss, far fewer people realize that hearing loss can also lead to depression.
The social aspect of hearing
Hearing clearly is essential for good communication with family and friends, as well as in the workplace. Hearing loss significantly diminishes the ability to communicate well; as people struggle to hear, they find themselves missing certain words and misunderstanding conversations.
Constantly straining to hear what is being said is mentally exhausting, and soon being in loud environments like bars and nightclubs that once were exciting now seem like a chore. Avoiding public outings can make a person feel disconnected from life. Feelings of loneliness can result.
If the individual is still working, hearing loss can lead to miscommunications. That can hinder at-work performance and future career plans if not treated by an audiologist.
When it is hard to socialize, those with hearing loss may feel a loss of independence. The condition might be a reminder of their age, too, and make them feel old, which can trigger sadness.
Grieving what is lost
Not being able to have once-enjoyable conversations anymore can be an isolating experience. Along with feeling sad about missing opportunities to socialize, a person can also grieve the sounds they are no longer able to hear.
For example, the songs they once loved might sound muffled now. When the joys of life, including the chirping of birds and the voice of someone near and dear, are no longer easy to hear, grieving for what is lost can occur.
When facing the hearing loss head-on, the grieving process can begin, and it can go on for some time. Crying and thinking about the loss are common signs of grief.
Stress, anxiety, and hearing loss
If hearing loss problems go untreated, the individual’s workplace can become a source of anxiety and stress. They may worry that they will make a mistake because of missing hearing words during a conversation or responding in an improper way because they misunderstood what was said.
In social settings, trying to differentiate between what people are saying and background noise can be frustrating. In restaurants, coffee shops, and other crowded places, sounds are jumbled rather than sounding like normal speech for someone with significant hearing loss.
The concentration required to hear people in loud environments can cause fatigue. Stress is not far behind, and chronic stress can increase the risk of depression.
The dangers of hearing loss
For seniors, hearing loss can also be physically dangerous, in addition to the mental risks, if it goes untreated. They may not be able to hear the smoke detector go off, for example, to warn of a fire.
They also might not hear an intruder in the home late at night. Also, if the doctor prescribed medication and the older person did not hear the instructions correctly, they might take an incorrect dosage and harm themselves accidentally.
Treating hearing loss
For better hearing and mental health, getting proper treatment is important. Someone who suspects they have hearing loss is encouraged to see an audiologist right away as seeking treatment early on can reduce their risk of depression.
If hearing loss is detected, hearing aids can significantly improve the user’s personal and professional relationships by making it easier to communicate in noisy places. An audiologist will help the individual to become accustomed to wearing them and caring for them.
Finding an audiologist
An audiologist understands how to treat hearing loss properly, including conducting appropriate testing and explaining the results to the individual. From there, a treatment plan can be made, which can include hearing aids custom made for them to improve their quality of life.
Wearing hearing aids can improve many areas of a person’s life, from their relationships to their sense of independence and feelings of safety. Thus, family members and friends would be wise to support their loved ones wearing the devices when recommended to do so by an audiologist.
If the person already has depression, finding a mental health professional to focus on the issues as soon as possible is vital. This person, such as a therapist or counselor, can help the individual understand their feelings and how to make positive changes.