Hearing loss can sometimes be difficult to admit and even harder to ask for help. It can be particularly hard on our relationships, especially with family and friends. Many people feel ashamed about their inability to hear and fear that others will perceive them as stupid or older than they actually are. This can lead to depression and isolation.
These feelings may get worse when the deaf or hard-of-hearing individual is not aware of their hearing loss and mistakenly blames themselves for not understanding what is being said. Alternatively, they may react defensively and become angry or behave aggressively.
With this in mind, hearing loss can affect a person’s mental health and wellbeing. But how?
How Mental Health Is Connected to Hearing Loss
Individuals with hearing loss have trouble perceiving environmental sounds, especially speech. This can make it difficult for them to participate socially, hold a job, and maintain relationships. Studies show that hearing loss is often linked to depression, anxiety and irritability, which can be related to the lack of social interactions, frustration with not being able to participate well in a conversation, and feelings of isolation.
Impaired with different negative emotions can lead to several mental health problems, including:
Connections between hearing loss and depression have been studied, and there is evidence that shows that people with hearing loss are twice as likely to have depression and may be at a greater likelihood of suicide.
Anxiety is a fear or nervousness that could be mild, severe and debilitating. Many years ago, it was thought that people with hearing loss were not at risk for anxiety, but that is not the case. An estimated one-third of people with hearing loss report symptoms of anxiety compared to one-fifth of those without.
Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality. It is a severe disorder and can result in difficulty performing everyday tasks, impaired relationships, and even suicide. People with hearing loss may have a more challenging time perceiving what is happening around them.
Social withdrawal can occur when an individual becomes isolated because they are hard of hearing. They may have trouble communicating with others or have no desire to socialize due to hearing problems. Studies show that people with hearing loss are less likely to have friends or participate in activities that could lead to new social connections.
Dementia and Cognitive Decline
Although hearing loss is not the only cause of cognitive decline, it can impair a person’s thinking, learning and judgment skills. Many signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are very similar to hearing loss. Speech problems, poor memory and trouble communicating can all be signs of mental decline.
Best Ways to Improve Mental Health
People with auditory problems experience mental health issues due to their particular hearing condition. To improve their mental health, it’s always best to address the root of the problem: hearing loss. The only way to alleviate the mental distress, and improve the health and wellbeing of this segment of the population, is to have it appropriately addressed.
Here are some ways to improve their hearing and mental health.
Several assistive technologies can help improve a person’s communication. These include hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices.
Regular hearing checkups with an audiologist is essential so that any changes in hearing can be identified and hearing aids can be adjusted accordingly. These checkups can also help prevent further hearing loss and are crucial for maintaining mental health.
Socialization is also key to maintaining mental health and wellbeing. It is crucial to socialize regularly if a person has a hearing loss to keep up with what is happening worldwide and with their friends, family and others.
Hearing loss is a common condition that affects people of all ages. The good news is that hearing loss can be treated. It is essential to seek help from a hearing specialist sooner rather than later. Because having good hearing is a significant step to improving mental health and wellbeing.
Hear More Associates provides the best hearing specialist in Massachusetts to help you enhance your hearing capabilities and improve your quality of life. Let us help you gain back your confidence in yourself through the use of hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with us today!