Hearing loss is about more than just hearing
Over the last decade or so, mental health has become a very hot topic, both in the world of medicine and among the wider population, and it’s not surprising why! According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), close to 20% of American adults live with a mental illness today.
On our blog, we’ve previously looked at hearing loss’s impact on some common health issues, but we’ve never taken a step back to look at mental health conditions in a more general sense and wrapped everything up in one place. And it’s about time we do!
So, does hearing loss make you more likely to experience a mental health issue? Absolutely – and here are some of the most common connections…
Hearing loss and anxiety & depression
Many studies done recently have linked hearing loss to both anxiety and depression, which are both incredibly common conditions even without hearing loss making them more prominent.
Folks with hearing loss have been found to experience more anxiety, because they may worry about their hearing loss throughout their day-to-day lives. For example, they may be anxious about their hearing loss getting worse or not being treatable, or they may be nervous about misunderstanding others in social situations or not being able to engage in a meaningful way. These are all very valid concerns, and they can certainly cause some anxiety.
Similarly, people with hearing loss are more likely to experience depression, as many people must mourn the loss of hearing certain sounds and can become isolated from friends and family as they lose their hearing.
While it may seem scary, treating any known hearing loss can actually be a great treatment for these mental health issues, too, which makes it even more important to treat hearing loss quickly and work with a hearing care professional if you’re experiencing any anxiety or depression.
Hearing loss and cognitive disorders
There are a few different ways that hearing loss can be detrimental to your cognitive health and, in the more severe cases, even cause cognitive decline.
One of the biggest examples of a connection between hearing loss and cognitive disorders is the link between hearing loss and dementia. This happens for a few different reasons, but essentially, as your brain has to work harder to process sounds, it can take up a lot more brain power, reducing the ability of your brain to focus on other things.
Social isolation can be another cause of dementia and cognitive decline, and since hearing loss can make those who experience it more likely to cut themselves off from social situations, cognitive health may suffer in turn.
Hearing loss and fatigue
Lastly, hearing loss can cause both physical and mental fatigue in a few different ways, but one of the biggest ways is because your brain is working overtime to keep up with life when your hearing isn’t performing as it should.
With hearing loss, it’s probably a lot harder to understand what people are saying, or you might have to listen closer when having a conversation or when watching the television to understand what’s happening. This extra mental capacity taken up by hearing loss can be mentally draining, making you feel more tired by the end of the day.
Experiencing hearing loss can be scary and can make you feel uncertain, and with all the potential mental health risks that come with untreated hearing loss, it’s crucial to seek help and treat hearing loss sooner than later. Luckily, seeing an audiologist or a hearing care professional is an easy and helpful process!
Our friendly team of hearing care providers at Beltone Tristate is always ready to help and make sure you feel like your best self while treating your hearing. If you’re ready to start taking control of your hearing loss, contact us for a free consultation and hearing test to get started on your journey to better hearing (and better health!).