How Treating Hearing Loss Helps Your Mental Health         

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Many people fail to acknowledge the existence of hearing loss in their lives. That could be chalked to several different factors:

  • Hearing loss is uneven. Rather than a sudden decrease in overall speech, hearing loss is often detected as frequency distortion.
  • Hearing loss is gradual.  It occurs quite gradually over time, and it may even be challenging to locate where the distortion is. Conversations become more challenging to follow as words are lost, or that volumes seem to be set too low on televisions and other devices. In this way, Small adjustments are easy to make to relieve the hearing loss without finding a diagnosis.
  • Loss of hearing is still seen as a sign of aging. Age-related loss of hearing is a very natural part of aging. Yet we are also hesitant to admit that it is present in our lives. Our culture is youth-obsessed, and a diagnosis of hearing loss seems like concrete evidence that we are becoming less relevant.

This can be a painful reality to recognize, but it is also important to remember that anybody can suffer hearing loss. Subtle prejudices are also incorporated into hearing loss that we may have internalized. Hearing or communicating difficulties due to hearing loss has no basis in our worth or mental abilities, although we seem to be linking them to ourselves.

Untreated hearing loss and the link to mental health 

You may think you ‘re not at risk of developing depression, but a 2014 study showed that adults between 18 and 69 were the ones most at risk of developing mental health problems due to untreated hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be an isolating experience; it can deprive you of connecting with friends and loved ones or maintaining a healthy social life. Instead of going out to a noisy restaurant to meet friends, you spend much more time alone. Compromised hearing also leads to a lot of uncertainty about job performance because you can’t communicate easily with your manager or colleagues. And your favorite times watching TV or listening to music become less enjoyable.

Such factors also lead to poor mental health results, as you feel more and more alone, become easily frustrated or angry, become irritable and nervous, and struggle with the everyday tasks of life.

Hearing loss can thus lead to mental health issues like emotional distress, anxiety, social isolation, and depression. The same results were found in an Italian study looking at data obtained from adults aged 35 and 55. Even though it was mild, those who had chronic hearing loss were far more likely to report distress or behavioral difficulties and were at a higher risk of mental health problems.

How does hearing loss treatment improve your mental health?

It can improve your quality of life.

According to a recent study, people aged 60 with hearing loss were found to have a better quality of life if they used hearing aids compared to those who didn’t use a hearing aid.

Hearing aids help you understand others in different situations, making it easier to do everyday tasks such as making bank errands or going to the store to pick up a few items. It also makes it more pleasant to meet friends and family.

It can lower the risk of depression.

The National Council on Ageing polled more than 4,000 people, both with and without hearing aids. Researchers found that individuals who chose to wear hearing aids displayed decreased levels and indicators of clinical depression.

They also discovered that people who wear hearing aids showed improved emotional strength and enjoyed stronger relationships with their families. Those with hearing aids generally felt better command over their lives and had a more optimistic outlook.

It can lower the risk of dementia.

A 2018 study by Professor Helene Amieva found an increased risk of illness and dementia in those with hearing loss and, in particular, an increased risk of depression in males with hearing problems.

Crucially, those who wore hearing aids were not subject to the same risk. The study also concluded that people who use hearing aids to impair hearing have independence rates equal to those with healthy hearing.

Treatment for Hearing Loss

If you have noticed changes in your hearing abilities, it is important to take a hearing test. Seeking treatment for hearing loss can significantly improve your overall health and well-being. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!