Hearing loss is a common problem that can be alleviated easily with the use of hearing aids and assistive listening devices. However, a lot of hearing loss goes undiagnosed and untreated – and that can result in higher depression rates and feelings of isolation in people with hearing loss.
It can also lead to a strain in personal and work relationships, which itself contributes to more feelings of isolation and depression. This is a problem that doesn’t have to take place, and getting that hearing loss treated is the key to ending the downward spiral.
Research Connects Depression to Hearing Loss
Symptoms of depression have been consistently connected, according to several studies, to hearing loss. Symptoms of anxiety, depression, and paranoia were, as reported by one study, more likely to impact people over 50 who have neglected hearing loss. And it was also more likely that that group would withdraw from social engagement. Many said that they felt as if people were getting angry at them for no apparent reason. However, those who got hearing aids noted improvements in their relationships, and the people around them – friends, co-workers, and family – also noticed improvements.
A different study found that people between the ages of 18 and 70, revealed a more acute feeling of depression if they had hearing loss of greater than 25 decibels. Individuals over the age of 70 with a self-diagnosed hearing loss did not show a major difference in depression rates compared to individuals who didn’t suffer from hearing loss. But all other demographics contain people who aren’t receiving the help that they need for their hearing loss. A different study found that people who use hearing aids had a lower reported rate of depression symptoms than those individuals who suffered from hearing loss but who didn’t use hearing aids.
Mental Health is Affected by Resistance to Wearing Hearing Aids
It would seem obvious that with these kinds of outcomes people would want to get help with their hearing loss. But people don’t seek out help for two principal reasons. First, some people simply don’t recognize that their hearing is that bad. They have themselves convinced that people are mumbling or even that they are talking quietly on purpose. The other factor is that some people might not realize they have a hearing loss. It seems, to them, that people don’t like talking with them.
It’s essential that anyone who has experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety, or the feeling that they are being left out of interactions due to people speaking too quietly or mumbling too much, get their hearing checked. If there is hearing loss, that person should talk about which hearing aid is right for them. Consulting a good hearing specialist might be all that is needed to feel much better.