About 20% of Americans report some degree of hearing loss. That’s one fifth of the population. With a condition so prevalent, it stands to reason that systems would be readily in place to make communication easier for those affected by hearing loss.
Unfortunately, that isn’t often the case as hearing loss still carries a silent stigma. People with hearing loss instead report feelings of isolation and depression. As we acknowledge World Mental Health day on October 10th, we also must acknowledge the link between hearing loss and emotional, psychological and social well-being.
Slow and gradual emergence of hearing loss…
Some cases of hearing loss occur suddenly, such as those due to trauma or exposure to incredibly loud, one-time noise events. Others are congenital and appear at the time of birth. Most cases of hearing loss take place slowly over time, whether due to the natural aging process or the result of exposure to loud, repetitive noises.
The early indicators of hearing loss are subtle and can be unexpected. Most people expect that hearing loss sounds like an all over reduction of volume. Instead, it’s more often a distortion in frequencies. You may hear folks speaking at the same volume as before hearing loss began to make an appearance, but their words seem garbled and difficult to understand. It might even seem as though you’d hear just fine if people would just enunciate clearly!
…And our gradual accommodations
It’s the very slow speed at which hearing loss takes place that actually makes its effects on behavior most insidious. Because the decline is so gradual, behaviors adapted to accommodate poor hearing emerge without us really paying them much attention.
As communication becomes more and more difficult, people with undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss tend to simply avoid communication. Trips to the store are replaced with Internet orders, weekly phone calls with the kids turn into the occasional email, dinner party invitations are repeatedly turned down. Before too long, people with hearing loss are simply living in isolation.
Human connection is a real need
No man is an island. At best, even at our most independent, we’re still archipelagos. Human beings need connection with other human beings. Undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss can unfortunately result in extended social isolation that quickly escalates into depression, anxiety or low self-confidence.
A 2014 study found that hearing loss has a significant increase on the risk of moderate to severe depression in adults. In fact, a primary conclusion of the study was to urge healthcare professionals to be on the lookout for symptoms of depression in hearing impaired patients.
Take control of your hearing life
Perhaps part of the depression experienced by those with hearing loss is the lack of control feeling that seeps into daily life. Being unable to communicate clearly and easily with others often leaves those with hearing loss feeling helpless. The ideal antidote for these feelings is to take proactive steps in reasserting control over your hearing. Beyond the sense of ease in communication, people proactively treating hearing loss also report feelings of accomplishment in dealing with this health issue.
Once hearing becomes less stressful, the healthy social patterns left behind can begin to be reintegrated into a post-treatment lifestyle. Regular conversation and connection with family and friends no longer seem daunting.
Act and intervene to treat hearing loss
It is important to act quickly once you notice the signs of hearing loss, before it begins to adversely affect social interactions and interpersonal relationships. A simple hearing test can be done with us at Custom Hearing Solutions. If hearing loss is indeed the issue, scheduling some time to discuss treatment with us is the best next step. Trained in hearing health and informed of all the hearing assistive devices available, our friendly team presents the most appropriate and practical hearing solutions for each individual case.
Most cases of hearing loss are treatable with the prescription of hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are so subtle and compact, it’s almost surprising the profound positive impact these tiny devices can have on a life. In a survey conducted by the National Council on the Aging (NCOA), hearing aid users reported “significant improvements in many areas of their lives, ranging from their relationships at home and sense of independence to their social life.”
You don’t have to live with untreated hearing loss. Protect your mental health by treating hearing loss! Contact us at Custom Hearing Solutions to schedule a consultation and hearing test.