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Hearing loss is a pervasive medical condition with significant effects that are often overlooked. Over 48 million people (nearly 1 in 5) experience some degree of hearing loss. Reduced capacity to hear and process sound strains communication which impacts relationships, social life, and job performance.
As an invisible condition, hearing loss can be an isolating experience. Its range of symptoms and cumulative impact can take a toll on mental health. The most effective way to prevent or address this is by treating hearing loss. Treatment strengthens hearing, allowing people to fully participate and enjoy daily life!
Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss produces numerous symptoms that can really disrupt the ability to complete daily tasks and make communication difficult. This includes:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing or ringing like noise in one or both ears
- Sounds are slurred or muffled so identifying words can be challenging
- Frequently asking others to speak loudly, slowly, and/or repeat themselves
- Needing to move to a quieter area to have a conversation
- Difficulty hearing in environments with background noise, and/or in conversations with multiple people
These symptoms can be experienced mildly to severely which drastically impacts a person’s ability to participate and follow a conversation. To cope with these symptoms during a conversation, people with hearing loss may use various strategies like reading mouths to help distinguish words or pretending to hear. This can be an exhausting and unpleasant experience for everyone involved in the conversation.
Feeling like too much work, people may avoid interacting with others; skipping out on social activities and gatherings. This means spending less time with family and friends which can deeply impact relationships. Social withdrawal creates distance and possibly tension, straining relationships. Additionally, people may stop all social activity including recreational sports or hobbies that require communication.
Link Between Hearing Loss & Depression
Social withdrawal and isolation profoundly contribute to anxiety, stress, and loneliness. Various studies have shown a significant link between hearing loss and depression. In a 2015 study, researchers investigated this relationship and found that people with hearing loss were more likely to also experience depression compared to people without hearing loss.
The study included 18,318 participants, ages 18 and older who self -reported their hearing ability and completed a questionnaire assessing depressive symptoms. The findings show that moderate to severe depression was:
- 4.9% for people with excellent hearing
- 11.4% for people with a little to greater hearing loss
These statistics reveal that depression was more than twice as likely for people with hearing loss. Experts have suggested that social withdrawal and strained communication produces or exacerbates depressive symptoms.
How Hearing Loss Treatment Improves Mental Health
Treating hearing loss can drastically improve all aspects of a person’s life including their mental health in a variety of ways including the following:
- Enhancing communication: treating hearing loss alleviates the symptoms that makes communication challenging. An increased ability to hear and process sound allows people to navigate conversations with greater ease. This supports people fully participating in daily life which boosts confidence, sense of independence, and social engagement. Enhanced wellness and effective communication also improve relationships and job performance.
- Decreasing risk of depression: studies have shown that hearing aids decrease the risk of depression. A 2019 study showed that wearing hearing aids decreased depression by 11%.. Treatment maximizes hearing which can have positive outcomes for social life and relationships as previously described.
- Lowering risk of dementia: in the same study, researchers found that wearing hearing aids also decreased the risk of dementia by 18%. Wearing hearing aids can improve cognitive function by restoring the auditory pathways and parts of the brain that help process sound.
Hearing aids support one’s hearing, making it easier to manage personal and professional responsibilities on a daily basis. This significantly improves mental health and overall wellbeing.
You can easily prioritize your hearing health by scheduling an appointment to have your hearing assessed. Hearing tests involve a noninvasive and painless process that measures your hearing ability in both ears. This establishes your hearing needs and best ways to meet those needs. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss which drastically improve hearing and mental health! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.