When your hearing changes it can affect your entire life. Untreated hearing loss has some oft-unforeseen repercussions, especially in the way it can make a person vulnerable to mental health problems and social isolation. There is an established connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk of depression. This link is largely based around the way hearing loss alters how we live and our ability to engage with our surroundings.
The Stress Of Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss can set off a domino reaction of mental and social issues in a person’s life. It usually begins with the ways in which hearing loss changes how we communicate and socialize.
Hearing problems make group conversations and noisy environments difficult to comprehend. Busy settings like restaurants and airports can be hard to navigate and engage in. Entertainment like concerts, movies or sporting events can become harder to understand and enjoy when hearing loss is present. Social events that involve a lot of conversation, like family gatherings or parties can become difficult and frustrating for a person with hearing loss to participate in. Hearing loss can also make traveling to new and unfamiliar places more disorienting and confusing.
Hearing loss can make participating in the events and experiences we once enjoyed stressful and exhausting. It often causes shifts in a person’s social habits, steering them away from settings where their hearing loss causes them discomfort. Trouble understanding speech disengages them from communicating effectively. Activities that were once pleasurable become disappointing or unpleasant, severing a person from their social habits and community.
Hearing loss can also make one-on-one conversations difficult and strain communication with your closest friends and family. Hearing loss can make phone conversations difficult to parse, as well as creating problems understanding voices with a very high or very low pitch. Trouble with understanding others and, in turn, feeling misunderstood, creates obstacles to maintaining our closest connections. Hearing loss can weaken even our strongest social bonds.
The Signs of Depression
Depression holds us back from happiness and appreciating the connections and joy in our life. It is marked by fatigue, sorrow and sadness, imbalances in sleeping and eating habits and a host of other symptoms that have a deeply wounding impact on our quality of life and can lead to job instability, substance abuse issues and suicidal ideation. Depression is a serious and difficult health issue, one in which the underlying causes may be closely tethered to hearing issues.
Hearing Loss And Depression
One of the major negative impacts untreated hearing loss has on a person’s life is the challenges that it creates for a person’s mental health and quality of life. The effects of hearing loss greatly amplify a person’s susceptibility to depression as well as to isolation and anxiety. Worse still, anxiety, isolation and depression can feed off each other as well as being encouraged by hearing loss.
In evaluating chronic conditions that can provoke depression, hearing loss is the most prevalent. Hearing loss is common – today, over 45 million Americans are living with some form of hearing loss. As we grow older the likelihood of hearing concerns also grows. Around two out of every three people over age 70 will have hearing loss.
Hearing loss creates distance in our relationships to others and draws us away from activities we once enjoyed. The mental strain caused by hearing loss discourages people from engaging in activities where hearing will be exhausting and unsatisfying. People with hearing loss may find themselves avoiding restaurants and parties, or staying home instead of going to a concert or sports game. Even everyday activities like a phone call may become difficult or dreary.
The SMART Study
SMART looked at 113 participants, age 50 and older, all coming to the study with some degree of untreated hearing loss. Before any hearing treatment was administered, researchers took a baseline test of the presence of depression in the subject’s life, based on a system called the Geriatric Depression Scale, which gives depressive signs present a numeric scale from 0-15.
After testing for depression with the GDS, subjects chose the form of hearing treatment best suited for their lifestyle needs, either hearing aids or cochlear implants. Study participants had to adhere to using their hearing rehabilitation and were then brought in for follow up questioning and observation. After the completion of an initial 6 months of study, researchers traced the effects of hearing therapies an additional 6 months.
At soon as 6 months into the research there was a remarkable tendency away from depressive states. Both cochlear implant patients and those with hearing aids had a drop in depression levels of around 30%. The study also found that hearing treatment made some of the biggest differences to the subjects with more pronounced depression.
Better Hearing Institute Survey
A survey by the Better Hearing Institute found that 9 out of 10 people reported a significant improvement in the quality of life after getting hearing aids.A recent study investigated whether or not treatment with hearing aids or cochlear implants would mitigate depressive symptoms in a pool of older adults. The study was conducted on 113 participants aged 50 or older, who had gotten hearing aids or cochlear implants. Their depression prior to the hearing treatment was scored on a recognized geriatric scale. The baseline depression score improved by 31% in those who received the cochlear implant and it improved by 28% for those who utilized hearing aids. So, there was significant improvement in depressive symptoms after six months and that improvement persisted after 12 months!
While there is no cure for hearing loss, the good news is that there is effective treatment. Hearing aids offer discreet and powerful assistance in recovering a range of sounds and in understanding speech.
Many modern hearing aids use specialized technology to help their users navigate tricky sound environments and group conversations. Directional microphones and digital processing can help a person better prioritize the conversations closest to them as well as track the location of a noise. More and more, hearing aids are also compatible with smart technology and taking advantage of digital streaming that can deliver sound from a smart phone or other digital device directly to the ear canal.
The hearing aids of today not only make use of new advances in sound processing, they are also more compact and discreet than ever before. A range of subtle designs have added comfort and invisibility to hearing aids, with some styles completely concealed within the ear canal. Powerful behind the ear designs tuck a small unit behind the upper ear, largely out of sight.
Hearing Spa Of Florida
When your hearing changes, don’t let it limit your lifestyle – visit Hearing Spa of Florida for the best in hearing healthcare. At Hearing Spa, we focus on personalized care and finding the perfect hearing solution for your needs. With a full range of hearing aids and comprehensive audiological testing, we can help you find relief for your hearing issues and keep you connected with what you love most about life.