Hearing loss has been historically underestimated. Due to this it’s rare for insurance companies to cover hearing exams or hearing aids. This is despite overwhelming evidence that hearing loss can increase rifts in relationships, increase the likeness of dementia and the likeliness of falls and accidents leading to hospitalizations. On top of these alarming discoveries in the last decades is the understanding of hearing loss’s impact on emotional health. When we struggle to connect to the people we love throughout the day at home, work and along the way, it tends to give way to an over-riding sense of saddens and hopelessness.
The Hopelessness of Depression
In the past mental health disorders were shunned and shamed. Today we understand the severity of depression and have a greater understanding of what we as a society can do to address it. No doubt, becoming more severe in the wake of the continued COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, hearing loss effects more than 14 million people in the US annually. While commonly associated with the elderly, who due to health issues, retirement and the loss of loved ones are assumed to be the most effected – the average onset of depression is 32. People who have a family history of depression may be at higher risk. In addition, stress, including caregiver stress, sleep issues, social isolation and loneliness all have increased the likeliness of depression in millions of people in the US. In the past mental health conditions were often denied as having any relation to our overall health. Today we now understand physical symptoms of chronic depression include fatigue, loss of appetite or overeating, lack of stamina, and sudden mood changes.
Connecting Hearing Loss and Depression
You may be experiencing depression and not even know it. If you’ve been feeling withdrawn, nervous, discouraged, or overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness it may be time to seek a therapist. Hearing loss affect people of all ages and may be contributing to depression. It can often develop slowly over many years- so subtly that you are not even aware of how it’s affected your communication and sense of self.
The cornerstone to healthy relationships is communication and healthy hearing can lay in the crux of this. When we struggle to hear we miss parts of words and sentences. Everyday social situations will start to feel strained and exhausting. You’ll find you’ll need to rest more even after simple interactions and find yourself avoiding social interactions all together. Humans are social creatures who rely on social interactions in order to feel connected, engaged and part of something larger outside of themselves. When social isolation takes over the need to connect many are left with an overriding sense of social anxiety and depression.
Try Socializing with Hearing Aids
When your social life suffers it starts to bleed into every aspect of your life. You are less likely to go out, try new things and meet new people – instead being worried that you’ll feel humiliated when you can’t hear or react appropriately. According to James Firman, president of the National Council on Aging, “People with hearing loss, especially those who do not use hearing aids, have a harder time communicating with others, whether in the family, at social events, or at work.”
Addressing Hearing Loss to Address Chronic Depression
While nearly 90% of all cases of hearing loss are irreversible hearing loss is effectively treated using hearing aids. These digital devices are worn in or around the ear and allow for amplification of all the sounds you struggle with – based on your latest hearing exam. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University investigated how treating hearing loss would impact mental health. After analyzing data from over 100 seniors who had both hearing loss and depression who had used hearing aids for six months or more, they discovered that depressive symptoms were significantly reduced.
Take your Mental Health and Your Hearing Seriously
The best thing you can do for both conditions is to address a loss immediately. Get ready for improved connections with all the people in your life. No doubt you’ll soon see yourself getting more from all the relationships in your life and more likely to explore the life you love. The first step is to schedule a hearing exam today.