Now, as we are well on our way into the third year of a global pandemic, more and more people are struggling with mental health issues such as crippling depression anxiety, and loneliness. Everyone has mood swings now and then. For those of us with hearing loss, these feelings can be impounded with issues around communication. What starts as simple miscommunication between loved ones and co-workers’ compiles into mood issues that can threaten the quality of life.
Missing Out During Social Interactions
When you have untreated hearing loss it’s common to struggle to communicate. This happens everywhere you go –with people at the checkout counter of your favorite shops and restaurants, at home with family, out with friends, or at work. Hearing loss commonly starts gradually, so subtle that many are not even aware they have an issue. However, symptoms manifest regardless of awareness around the condition. Parts of words are lost at first and then words in sentences. It may give you the feeling that you can’t connect and feel left out. Over time it’s common for people to opt out of gatherings or events, due to hearing issues.
Anxiety and Depression
Humans are social creatures and when hearing loss impedes a person’s ability to enjoy socialization it can begin a process of chronic depression and anxiety. Half the time you spend conversing you may be wondering “what did you say?” It’s all too common for people to pretend to hear rather than face the embarrassment they may feel due to hearing issues. This lends itself to increase confusion and feelings of anxiety as hearing issues may lead you to respond inappropriately to questions you misheard. Meanwhile, the people in your life mistake your hearing issues as being disinterested and detached. The result of years of buildup of communication issues can result in chronic depression. Many underestimate the health effects of depression –the mood is more connected to our health than many give credit. Health risks of chronic depression include an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.
Studies on Mood and Hearing
A 2014 study about hearing loss and depression published online on JAMA Otolaryngology-Head Neck Surgery, surveyed over 18,300 adults about their hearing and their mental health between 2005-2010. The results of the study showed that while 4.9% of people with normal hearing had depression, 11.4% of people with hearing loss had moderate or severe depression! People with hearing loss are more than twice as likely to have depression as those without hearing loss. A 2019 study from Australia observed that older adults with hearing loss have a 20% higher risk of suffering from depression.
The Emotional Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss
Does hearing loss affect your mood? The mood is defined as a temporary state of mind or feeling. However, hearing loss can affect your mood and emotions in chronic lasting ways. Rifts in relationships and less success at work, as people rely on you less due to miscommunications can build up leaving people with feelings of lower self-esteem and a lesser sense of self.
The Social Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss
As social interactions being to take a toll on your levels of stress due to an untreated hearing loss, it’s common for people to opt-out of gatherings. This can make way for loneliness, especially for people who spent the majority of life surrounded by others. Loneliness can have serious health risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the health risks of loneliness include:
- Risk of premature death that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.1
- A 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
- A 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
Schedule a Hearing Test
The important thing to understand about hearing loss is that while it is most often irreversible the side effects can be reversed or minimized using hearing aids. These tiny electronic devices amplify sounds you otherwise couldn’t hear and allow you to connect to the people in your life again. Leap an increased quality of life and schedule a hearing exam today. With dedication, you can start to build back strained relationships and find that you may be ready to try things you haven’t tried in years.