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Study: The impact of hearing loss on mental health

impact of hearing loss on mental health
A new study that evaluates the impacts of untreated hearing loss has one clear takeaway: addressing hearing problems always leads to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

According to a new study by Clear Living, untreated hearing loss can cause challenges in one’s social and personal life, relationships and mental healthy – including depression, anxiety, and frustration.

However, appropriately treating hearing loss leads to people feeling more alert and awake, sociable, and generally more energetic, according to the research.

Hearing Loss Impact on Health

The impact of hearing loss on mental health is well known. Depression, social isolation and loneliness are just some of the common factors of untreated hearing loss.

Now, data from “The Impact of Hearing Loss on Mental Well-Being & Lifestyle Study” also states:

  • Social and personal problems rank as the most common impacts of hearing loss according to 89 percent of study participants.
  • Many participants who are related to those with a hearing loss mentioned having to leave their partners with hearing loss due to the frustration and impacts on their relationship. In fact, reports that hearing loss has led to relationships suffering was reported by 58% of participants.
  • Many individuals with hearing loss mentioned that their hearing loss has caused them to become depressed.
  • Concerns and uncertainty with the thought of buying a hearing aid were also addressed by 75% of participants with hearing loss.

Coping with hearing loss

As you can see from the statistics above, it’s evident that an array of emotions can arise when dealing with hearing loss.

From the very beginning stages of getting tested, going to a professional, and buying a hearing aid to actually living with hearing loss, it’s understandable that hearing loss could most definitely have an impact on overall mental wellbeing.

Just the mere thought of being diagnosed with a hearing loss can be terrifying. This is because being diagnosed with a hearing loss is often followed by recommendations for hearing aids or referrals to professionals. Then, once that process concludes, people are often put into the world to navigate this new life with hearing loss. That in itself can bring about these various frustrations.

Read more: New to hearing loss? 3 ways to be an advocate for your hearing loss journey

Hearing loss and mental health

Now that we have a sense of some of the biggest challenges people face with hearing loss, we can dig into how those challenges directly.

According to the study, people with untreated hearing loss are likely to experience frustration, anxiety, and fear.  When these responses and emotions set in, it can leave individuals feeling stressed or anxious. In some cases, it can also lead to or insomnia, or the inability to sleep.

Read more: Mental health and hearing loss 

Helping others cope with hearing loss

For those who do not have hearing loss, it can be helpful to consider what that person may be going through.

People with “normal hearing” often don’t have to think twice about communication. However, for people with hearing loss, these things can be huge factors in navigating everyday life.

For example, communicating with your doctor. This may seem like an everyday thing, right? However, for someone with untreated hearing loss, this can cause a great amount of anxiety. If they are unable to communicate with their medical professional because they can’t hear, then it could lead to misinformation.

How hearing loss affects the senses

In addition, hearing, taste, smell, touch and sight all work together physically contributing to our overall health. Hearing, in particular, has the potential to have impact on the brain.

Phonak Insights: The Ears are the Doorway to the Brain

Some ways in which this plays a part could potentially be listening fatigue (fatigue from taking in a lot of sound/noise/information). When one experiences listening fatigue, it may not only tire out the ears but could tire out the brain as well.

“The more the brain tires itself out, the more susceptible it is to illness and damage,” according to ClearLiving.com. “(This) could lead to the development of conditions such as dementia.”

Read more: Who is impacted by hearing loss and dementia?

Heat is another factor that can play a part especially in the inner ear; if the inner ear becomes damaged in some way such as very high fever, fluctuations in blood pressure, and physical trauma to the ear, it can affect balance and thus, hearing as a result.

Conclusion

All in all, hearing loss is definitely not without its challenges. However, there are luckily things individuals with hearing loss can do to cope with and maintaining these challenges.

If someone you know with hearing loss is going through these struggles, speaking as someone who has a hearing loss; we know it can be frustrating. It’s important to be patient and provide support when you can.

If you’re struggling with hearing loss, know that you’ve got this and you are not alone! These challenges can be overbearing at times, to say the least, but you too, are doing an amazing job!

If you think you or a loved one has hearing loss, consider visiting a hearing care professional. They will help you on your journey to a happier, healthier life.

Danielle Guth
Author Details
Hi, my name is Danielle! I’m an undergraduate psychology student at Penn State University with an immense passion for writing and helping and inspiring others in any way I can. I am an anti-bullying and mental health advocate, blogger, and public speaker through my personal blog and social media campaign, “Compassionately Inspired”. I was born with a severe conductive hearing loss and hope to inspire others both in the hard of hearing and deaf community as well as the hearing community. “Everybody has a story”; that’s my motto and I hope my stories inspire you in one way or another.
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Danielle Guth
Hi, my name is Danielle! I’m an undergraduate psychology student at Penn State University with an immense passion for writing and helping and inspiring others in any way I can. I am an anti-bullying and mental health advocate, blogger, and public speaker through my personal blog and social media campaign, “Compassionately Inspired”. I was born with a severe conductive hearing loss and hope to inspire others both in the hard of hearing and deaf community as well as the hearing community. “Everybody has a story”; that’s my motto and I hope my stories inspire you in one way or another.