Hearing Loss Can Contribute To Depression

 

Hearing loss is common among adults, and it affects more than just your ability to hear what’s going on around you. It can also be a catalyst for depression, which is all the more reason to take action to counter the effects of hearing loss.

The Facts on Hearing Loss

Among seniors over age 60, 30% experience hearing loss. This isn’t just a problem among seniors, however, as over 14% of middle-aged Americans between the ages of 41-59 also deal with auditory problems. Even among people aged 29-40, over 7% have some degree of hearing loss.

Unfortunately, the majority of people who deal with hearing loss do not receive treatment for it. Only about 40% of seniors and 15% of middle-aged Americans who experience hearing loss wear hearing aids. Treatment is important, however, as hearing loss affects more than just your ears.

The Emotional Consequences of Hearing Loss

A study from the National Council on Aging looked into the effects of untreated hearing loss in seniors on mental and emotional health. A greater percentage of surveyed seniors whose hearing loss was untreated reported experiencing periods of sadness or depression during the previous year than those who received treatment for their hearing loss.

Feeling blue wasn’t the only aspect of emotional health that was affected by hearing loss. The study also reported that seniors with untreated hearing loss were more likely to be worried and anxious, to feel insecure about themselves and to experience tension. They were more likely to feel that other people were angry with them without cause, which is often considered a sign of paranoia.

Finally, people with untreated hearing loss participated less in social activities than those whose hearing loss was treated. Without hearing aids, study participants were at least 20% less likely to engage in social situations than those who used hearing aids. In people with depression, social isolation can further exacerbate symptoms.

Action Steps to Take

No matter your age, if you are experiencing hearing loss, the following steps can help you maintain or achieve emotional health, despite your auditory struggles.

  • Seek treatment: The NCOA study showed that seniors who received treatment for their healing loss, such as getting hearing aids, were in better mental health and felt better about themselves and their family relationships than those whose hearing loss went untreated.

  • Receive counseling: A licensed therapist can help you process your feelings about hearing loss and its impact on your relationships.

  • Ask for cooperation: You have the right to be heard, and your input has value. Help others help you contribute to conversations by letting them know what you need in order to communicate effectively. It’s okay to ask people to look at you when speaking or to talk to you on a particular side.