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How does Hearing Loss Lead to Depression?

a man with hearing loss

At some point in their lives, over 300 million people around the world will struggle with depression. It is often the result of other conditions including anxiety, stress and isolation. However, one possible contribution which is often overlooked and left untreated by health professionals is hearing loss. 

While there are many things that can trigger depression, hearing loss is just one of the few that you can do something about. 

Hearing loss is a chronic prevalent current condition in the United States. More than ten million Americans over the age of 65 and nine million between the aged of 45-64 experience hearing loss to some degree. However, three out of five older Americans and six out of seven middle-aged with hearing loss will not use a hearing aid. This can be down to misconceptions of how well they work, cosmetic reasons or not accepting that they do have a hearing impairment. Out of those, 30% report feelings of depression and sadness as opposed to 22% of those who do wear hearing aids, which is a significant difference.

Hearing aids do not just bring about improved hearing, but many other non-auditory related benefits. These include improved relationships with family and friends, a better experience in the workplace and social events, a greater sense of independence and security and generally improved quality of life and better mental health.

Problems with communication

Hearing loss is not just an inconvenience. In many cases, it is a permanent medical condition which is only likely to get worse. Like any other chronic condition, it can affect your ability to enjoy life. It can leave you feeling disconnected from the outside world as you struggle to communicate with others, keep up with conversations and listen to music. You might find yourself making mistakes because you have misheard what somebody has said or are too embarrassed to ask them to repeat it. If you are working, these misunderstandings can sometimes be career threatening. Hearing loss is a condition that alters your life, both physically and psychologically and just like any other disability, you are at a greater risk of becoming depressed. 

Hearing loss can make you want to avoid many social situations rather than deal with the stress and strain of being able to hear and keep up with conversations. A night out, surrounded by crowds and the often-overwhelming noise of parties, bars and restaurants become something you would just rather skip than put yourself through. Even more private environments can be difficult, as people who you would hope would be supportive but aren’t may talk over you or around you at family or small social gatherings, leaving you feeling isolated and ignored. Avoiding communication, and a lack of support of family and friends increases your likelihood of developing depression or other mental health issues.

Missing out on the things that you enjoy

Most people love listening to music, watching movies and listening to the sounds of the world around them. Imagine if that ability was taken away from you, whether suddenly, due to an accident, injury or gradually, as is so often the case with hearing loss. It doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? The loss of something that we almost always take for granted until it is gone can lead to feelings of almost overwhelming grief and sadness, and of course, if left to go unchecked and untreated, this can cause depression.

What support is out there?

The most obvious way of treating depression is to treat the root cause of it: the hearing loss. While in some cases it cannot be completely solved, it almost certainly can always be improved with the use of hearing aids. 

Many studies have shown that those who seek out treatment for hearing loss sooner reduce the risk of depression. However, after having hearing aids fitted, it is important that you give yourself time to adjust to new sounds gradually – it can be quite a shock to the system! Your audiologist will help you to set up a rehabilitation program to enable this. While hearing aids do require an adjustment period, your audiologist will work with you on a schedule to help you ease into hearing all those sounds once again.

For more information on hearing loss, hearing aids or support with anything we have mentioned in this article, give Affordable Hearing a call today at 803-749-6017, Orangeburg and Santee: 803-531-6403