When it comes to hearing loss and your mental health, you might already know about the relationship. Whether from what your loved one has to tell you or your own personal experience, the frustration, struggle, and worry associated with hearing loss can add up to more than just an inconvenience. In fact, other health concerns are related to hearing loss, as well. The combination of health effects can feed into one another such that you struggle to cope with the condition. While it is true that many people talk about their experiences of mental health issues associated with hearing loss, far more do not. These hidden feelings can give us the false sense that someone is getting by okay with untreated hearing loss.
In response to this group of people who have undisclosed mental health issues associated with hearing loss, a recent study asked them to tell their stories. Though the individual details varied, the overall picture was quite consistent with what we already know from other sources. Hearing loss can cause more than just frustration but can actually be a cause for concern when it comes to mental health. The good news is that treatment is available, and that treatment can make the difference between just getting by and actively thriving in your community.
Reports of Mental Health Issues
A recent study by the group Clear Living addressed this need to understand the mental health outcomes of those with hearing loss. As a health care and lifestyle website, they have a dedicated readership, and they sent out a call for responses to that group. When they received the responses to specific questions, the results were incredible. A full 3,767 people replied with their experiences, and they used that information to make some generalizations about hearing loss. Although these generalizations are helpful in some ways, the quantitative statistics are based on a limited group of respondents who are already readers of the site, so what they have to say might not reflect the population of people with hearing loss more broadly. However, their individual reports speak to the wide range of experiences that a person can have with hearing loss and mental health.
Sources of Mental Health Concerns
Why do people with hearing loss have higher rates of mental health concerns? One of the main reasons mentioned by respondents to this survey had to do with the inability to take part in favorite activities. Some people found that their hearing loss made them perform more poorly at their favorite hobbies, such as playing football. Others found that they were no longer able to go to their favorite places and take part fully. Some of the locations mentioned included church, parties, bars, or sporting events. Any place that requires conversation in the midst of background noise seems to be particularly difficult.
Others pointed to difficulties in the workplace that led to feelings of anxiety or frustration. When asked to perform a task, some people with hearing loss were concerned that they didn’t understand the instructions. They felt that their workplace performance might even be compromised such that they were no longer able to do their job at all. This occupational concern led to financial worries, as well. Beyond these reports, some people explicitly mentioned that hearing loss sent them into a bout of depression. The cause of this depression often had to do with the feeling of isolation and disconnection from loved ones. Even while sitting in the same room, some people with hearing loss felt that they were not able to really take part in the conversation. The feeling of being alone in the most familiar settings led some to feel mental health concerns, as well.
Despite these potential areas for hearing loss to cause mental health issues, their reports of the use of hearing aids were quite the contrary. With proper treatment, many of the respondents felt relieved, at ease, and like the cloud had lifted. Getting treatment for hearing loss can benefit you far beyond the act of hearing. Indeed, mental health can improve with the newfound ability to connect with others. That lifted mood and mental outlook can contribute to wellbeing in many other areas of life, as well.