A study from the American Academy of Audiology found that people with an untreated hearing loss reported higher rates of sadness. This prolonged sadness might soon take the form of clinical depression if patients don’t receive timely treatment.
Hearing loss and depression, can you imagine living every single day with the fear that you are getting cut off emotionally and socially from everything you love? This is what a family member might be going through if they are struggling with hearing loss. When left untreated, it has more than just a physical impact – it upsets their emotional and social balance too.
Hearing loss can be a drastic change in one’s life and it might take quite a bit of time to get accustomed to. Feelings of anger, denial and anxiety can lead to isolation and social withdrawal. A person with hearing impairment often tries to avoid situations such as public gatherings (where it can get difficult to hear clearly) to avoid feeling embarrassed. Social withdrawal and isolation can significantly trigger depression. Loss of hearing also leads to tiredness and fatigue all day long. People suffering from hearing impairment need to strain themselves to hear clear speech. This makes them feel physically exhausted because of the extra effort they need to put in to hear and interpret what people around them are saying.
When your loved one is coping with hearing loss, they have to strain to hear what is being said, and often have to ask people to repeat themselves. They feel anxious on causing inconvenience and end conversations quickly. In turn, other family members and friends, too, find it difficult to talk with them. There is limited communication from both ends, which leads to your loved one feeling lonely, ignored and out of place. They withdraw and prefer spending time alone.
Depression is a medical condition where a person’s thoughts, emotions and actions are negatively affected. Not being able to hear their favourite music, shows, or even the familiar voices of their family and friends, becomes a starting point. They feel everyone around is always irritated with them. Over time, they feel unsafe and dependent even when stepping out of home, since they are prone to falls.
This state of mind cannot be healthy for your loved one. But thankfully, it needn’t stay this way. Proper diagnosis and treatment with the right hearing aid can ensure their hearing improves, and so does their state of mind.
The National Council on The Aging (NCOA) conducted a survey and found that among those with severe hearing loss, 30% of those who do not use hearing aids reported feeling sad and lonely, compared to a lower count of 22% among those who do use hearing aids.
With regular use of hearing aid, your loved one can experience better communication, and a sense of inclusion in daily life. They will also be more confident to step out and be a part of their social circles, making them independent again. All this, of course, keeps their mind healthy and happy.
If your family member is facing a hearing issue and seems to be isolating themselves, start by talking to them about getting a hearing test. It’s possible that they do not like the idea of wearing a hearing aid and hence will avoid diagnosis. But patiently explain to them that getting treatment early on can prevent a lot more trouble like not understanding people around, and not being able to take part in activities that keep them happy.
Treatment options depend upon the type of hearing loss one is suffering from. Some of the most common ways of treating hearing loss induced depression are:
With the advent of technology, hearing aids have also come a long way. They can now be linked to smartphones and you can hear the audio through your hearing aid from your phone. When a person will be able to hear clearly, their social, emotional and psychological quality of life is certain to improve. Hearing aids have multiple other health benefits to offer such as reducing loneliness, delaying dementia and likely lowering the risk of falls caused as a result of anxiety and depression.
Aural rehabilitation is a kind of treatment wherein someone suffering from hearing loss is able to communicate more effectively by minimizing the impacts of their hearing impairment. If a family member of yours is suffering from hearing loss, you can convince them to visit an audiologist who will set reasonable expectations for how their hearing can improve. He will also recommend effective listening techniques. Hearing instrument specialists educate their patients on how various listening environments can help them minimize or overcome their hearing impairment. Auditory training, coupled with regular usage of hearing aids, tend to reduce the symptoms of depression significantly.
Assistive listening devices
These devices are different from hearing aids. ALDs include devices like amplified telephones, hearing aid compatible smartphones, TV compatible devices and alerting devices. These devices aid you with turning the volume up or down as necessary to hear clear speech. Some ALDs use either acoustic or telecoil coupling to pick up and amplify sounds, especially in public places.
Alerting devices help hearing impairment patients stay connected with their surroundings, alongside improving their safety. Relying on amplified sounds, these devices send vibrations to the user to alert them to sounds in their environment. Even at times when they’re not wearing their hearing aids, alerting devices give peace of mind to the user by addressing their hearing impairment issues.
One of the topmost interventions to help someone with their hearing loss induced depression is convincing them to seek counselling from an expert. Seeking a mental health professional with years of experience in treating depression will help the patient to regain an emotional foothold. Regular therapy sessions are certain to bring emotional and psychological stability, which will ensure improved wellbeing.
If you come across a family member or friend feeling depressed due to their hearing impairment, introduce them to music, laughter and other beautiful sounds. Instead of directly telling someone to wear a hearing aid, try talking to them in a gentle manner that shows them your concern. Give them full attention along the way in this journey of fighting hearing loss induced depression and coming out as a winner!
The journey begins with finding out the extent of hearing loss.
We would be happy to partner you in helping your loved one manage their hearing loss, not just with the right diagnosis, but with counselling and guidance that is practical, and customised to their lifestyle and hearing challenges.
Take the initiative to chat with them about treatment, and ensure they don’t miss out on conversations any more.