Being in a continued state of elevated alertness is the definition of anxiety. It alerts us to peril, but for some people, anxiety becomes unregulated, and their bodies react as if everything is a potential danger. Instead of feeling anxious before a big job interview, you may be simmering with fear while making dinner or talking to a friend. Everything seems more daunting than it normally would and day-to-day life becomes an emotional battle.
For other people, anxiety can take more than an emotional toll – the symptoms may become physical. Dizziness, insomnia, nausea, and heart palpitations are some of the physical symptoms. Some people begin to feel an increasing sense of anxiety as their hearing worsens while others struggle with some degree of anxiety their whole lives.
Hearing loss doesn’t emerge suddenly, unlike other age related health issues, it progresses gradually and frequently undetected until suddenly your hearing specialist tells you that you need a hearing aid. This should be similar to finding out you need glasses, but hearing loss can cause anxiety that doesn’t occur with deteriorating vision for many people. It can happen even if you’ve never experienced serious anxiety before. Hearing loss can make it even worse for people who already suffer from anxiety or depression.
What Did You Say?
There are new worries with hearing loss: How much did you say that cost? What if I say ‘huh?’ too many times? If I keep asking people to repeat what they said, will they start to get aggravated with me? Will people stop calling me? When day-to-day activities become stressful, anxiety intensifies and this is a common reaction. If you no longer accept invitations to dinner or larger gatherings, you may want to evaluate why. Your struggle to keep up with conversations could be the reason why you keep declining invitations if you’re being truthful with yourself. While this may help in the short-term, over time, you will feel more isolated, which will result in increased anxiety.
Am I Alone?
Others are also going through this. It’s increasingly common for people to have anxiety. About 18% of the population copes with an anxiety disorder. Hearing loss, especially when ignored, raises the likelihood of being diagnosed with an anxiety condition according to recent research. The correlation may go the other way also. Some research has shown that anxiety increases your chances of developing hearing loss. It’s regrettable that people continue to needlessly deal with both of these conditions considering how treatable they are.
Options For Treatment
If hearing loss is producing anxiety, it’s time to get fitted for a hearing aid. Don’t procrastinate and if you find that your hearing has suddenly changed, come in as soon as you can. For many, hearing aids minimize anxiety by reducing miscommunications and embarrassment in social situations.
At first your anxiety may increase a bit due to the learning curve that comes with hearing aids. It can take weeks to determine the basics of hearing aids and get used to using them. So if you struggle somewhat initially, be patient and try not to be discouraged. If you’re still having problems with anxiety after you’ve had your hearing aids for a while, it’s time to call your doctor. There are many ways to treat anxiety, and your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes such as additional exercise, to improve your individual situation.