Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)
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Treating hearing loss goes a long way in boosting hearing abilities and creating better communication. It is also critical to keeping feelings of isolation, of anxiety, and of depression at bay. In fact, people who are experiencing hearing loss, especially when it goes undiagnosed and untreated, often find themselves receding from their social life, wanting to avoid their loved ones, friends, and people at work.
Hearing loss can make it difficult to have close, one-on-one communication with people, as people with hearing loss can often technically hear what is being said but can have difficulty making out the specific words being said. Hearing loss can also create anxiety about being in public spaces, as people with hearing loss can have difficulty distinguishing between multiple sounds. In spaces where there may be lots of different and competing sounds, it can be nearly impossible to make out the conversations happening around you. Hearing loss can have great impact in work environments, as phone calls and office-wide meetings alike can be difficult to track.
Here, we take a look at the emotional toll of untreated hearing loss and its link to depression.
Studies on Hearing Loss and Mental Health
There have been many studies undertaken to explore the links between hearing loss and mental health, and hearing loss and depression, in particular. One study conducted by Dr. Chuan-Ming Li of the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders was published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery in 2014 explored the links between hearing loss and depression. The study draws on data from a survey of 18,000 people over the age of 18 collected from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. People in the study who were over the age of 70 were given hearing tests while people who were younger than that self-reported their hearing status, and all were given a questionnaire meant to understand the prevalence of depression amongst them. The study found that depression increased as hearing loss increased.
This study, and others like it that have been conducted worldwide, reinforce what might be a commonsense notion: when a person does not feel like they can hear well, they are at greater risk for feeling like they are not making connections with the world around them. The work it can to adjust to the new realities of different hearing capabilities can have ripple effects across all aspects of one’s physical and mental wellbeing. Taking steps to address hearing loss can go a long way to relieve symptoms of depression, in particular.
Addressing Hearing Loss
One of the first steps in treating hearing loss is disclosing to people that you do in fact need hearing assistance: that you need or use hearing aids, and/or that you have hearing needs such as asking people to slow down when they are speaking to you or that they should address you from one ear over the other. Hearing aids cannot replace lost hearing, but they can improve upon the hearing that does exist. Working with an audiologist will help determine your hearing needs and they will help you find the best hearing aids for your needs. There are many kinds of hearing aids, from behind the ear (BTE), receiver in the ear (RITE), or receiver in the canal (RIC) hearing aids that have excellent battery power for those with moderate to severe hearing loss. Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) or Completely-in-Canal (CIC) styles fit within your ear canal and work well for people with moderate hearing loss. The larger and even more powerful devices that are well-suited for people with more complex hearing assistance needs and for people with severe hearing loss include the In-the-Ear (ITE) and In-The-Canal (ITC) hearing aids that sit within the “ear bowl.”
Hearing Aids Help You Stay Connected
Hearing aids can be critical to maintaining current hearing health and ensuring future healthy hearing habits. Moreover, hearing aids are critical to aiding in your communication with the people you interact with every day. By helping you remain connected to your surroundings, hearing aids reduce the risk of depression that has been associated with hearing loss. You will likely feel far more comfortable entering into situations where you may have previously had difficulties hearing or engaging in conversation, whether that is at home or at work, and your mood will most certainly improve when you feel more integrated into all aspects of your rich life.
Have you experienced changes in your hearing? Do you struggle to remain connected to your loved ones? Encore Hearing is here to help. We provide comprehensive hearing health services to help you hear your best. Contact us today to learn more.