Many people think that the impact of hearing loss starts and ends in your ears. Unfortunately, this is far from true. Hearing loss is a condition that ripples through your health and wellbeing, and it can take a significant toll on your cognitive wellness and your quality of life. As an example of one of the many ways hearing loss can change your life, let’s take a look at ways in which hearing loss is connected to your mood.
Hearing Loss and Social Isolation
Did you know that hearing loss can subtly shift your behavior patterns? Unaddressed hearing loss sets off a chain reaction that begins with changes in how we enjoy activities. It may not be immediately evident that your enjoyment of your favorite activities is linked to your ability to hear, however, problems with hearing will alter your ability to engage with others and enjoy conversation.
Untreated hearing loss can make normal conversation and noise frustrating or unbearable, and by doing so it begins to leech our enjoyment from social activities. If attending a party or meeting a friend at a new restaurant becomes more of a burden than a joy because we cannot hear properly, we start declining invitations and avoiding social settings. At its worst, this takes the form of social isolation and limited mobility where we are shut away from others, impacting our cognitive and emotional health as well as our quality of life.
Hearing Loss and Anxiety
Behaviors related to hearing loss may also contribute to increased anxiety. People with untreated hearing loss are significantly more at risk for anxiety disorders than people with healthy hearing. Much of this is also based on how hearing loss reshapes communication.
Hearing loss creates a large cognitive burden – our mind constantly has to work extra hard to pull context and meaning from incoming speech that may sound muffled or fragmented. This can add tension and shame to social settings where being unable to follow a conversation is perceived to have consequences.
It can also make it harder to navigate the world. From catching announcements in a busy airport to hearing a special bulletin on the news to making sure you copy down the correct name and address for an important meeting, being unable to hear accurately can have big consequences and make it especially challenging to deal with unfamiliar situations and settings. This too elevates anxiety levels considerably.
Hearing Loss and Depression
The communication difficulties that unaddressed hearing challenges create can also play a role in the onset of depression. Depression is a serious disease marked by a loss of interest in activities and other people. As a mood disorder, depression makes it difficult to feel enjoyment or excitement. Hearing loss can exacerbate conditions that lead to depression.
Just as the increased difficulty of communication can lead to isolation or anxiety, it can also fuel depression. Hearing loss may leave us feeling like it is too difficult or impossible to understand others, even the people we are closest to. It may even make it seem like others aren’t able to truly understand us. This breakdown in communication can play out as a withering of important social connection and the growth of bad feelings.
Isolation, anxiety and depression can exist by themselves, but they also tend to arise in combination, and each greatly diminish a person’s quality of life. Hearing loss can play a key role in establishing each alongside accompanying drastic changes in mood and demeanor.
Addressing Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be a major impediment to your health and lifestyle – but it doesn’t have to hold you back. Hearing loss is often permanent but it can be managed with hearing aids. Hearing aids greatly improve the clarity and accuracy of your hearing, helping make speech and sound more accessible and enjoyable.
Hearing aids work hard so your brain has an easier time processing sound. The extra support hearing aids provide can ease the stresses that hearing loss creates. They even offer specific solutions for common issues, like hearing aids equipped with telecoil loops that can send public announcements at an airport or private interactions with your bank teller directly to your ear canal for more focused listening. With access to better hearing, a balanced mood and a restored quality of life are easier to find.