The idea of losing one of your five senses doesn’t bear thinking about. Take hearing loss, for example — it is going to take some time adapting to the new challenges you face. Whether you lose your hearing gradually through a slow deterioration or more rapidly through noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), it can take some getting used to. Thankfully there are many ways to cope with hearing loss, which include hearing aids and hearing implants.
One thing that isn’t considered quite as much as the physical change is the emotional and psychological aspect of losing your hearing. Studies have shown that the likelihood of developing depression increases by five percent with every drop in incremental hearing ability. Although not everyone will be affected mentally, hearing loss can lower self-esteem and impact how you interact with other individuals. Let’s take a closer look at the emotional and psychological impacts of hearing loss.
Imagine you are out at a bar with friends, and you can’t follow the conversation. Picture how you would feel as you ask the waiter to repeat the question for the fourth time. Consider how exhausting it would be straining to hold a conversation. This sort of experience is all too common for people who suffer from hearing loss.
When social situations are a source of anxiety and embarrassment, you are likely to avoid them altogether. This is exactly how people who have hearing loss begin to withdraw themselves socially and become socially isolated.
Denial and anger
Denial is the first stage of grief, and losing your hearing can be traumatic. You might not want to admit that following a conversation or hearing the television is becoming more and more of a challenge, but you must start figuring out how to live with this new challenge. Until you admit that you have a problem, it is impossible to treat hearing loss. If left untreated, you will find that your hearing deteriorates faster than if you invested in a pair of hearing aids.
On the other hand, the frustration of not enjoying a conversation with a friend or hearing someone on the phone can easily manifest into anger. Although it is natural to be upset and angry about this drastic change in your life, it is worth remembering that there is a range of effective hearing solutions that can help make living with hearing loss easier than ever before.
We often take our hearing for granted, and we tend not to have to expend much energy or effort keeping up with conversations around us. Anyone who has learned or tried to learn a second language will know that the extra effort required to follow a discussion can leave you feeling drained. Hearing loss can have a similar effect and leaves sufferers in a constant state of fatigue.
Another issue that can be a struggle for those who have hearing loss is sleep. Studies have shown that hearing impairment was shown to be linked with sleep disturbance.
Anxiety and depression
As previously mentioned, hearing loss can be a huge contributory factor to anxiety levels. When you suffer hearing loss and are constantly faced with simple anxiety-inducing tasks like going for dinner with friends, calling your bank, or even going to work, it can lead to a lot of stress and worry. Anxiety disorders are already the most common mental health issue in the US, so you stand a good chance of becoming one of the statistics if you have hearing loss and don’t do anything about it.
Depression is another mental health issue that is a scourge in modern-day society. Losing the ability to converse and hear the sounds around you can leave you feeling like you lost part of your identity. These feelings of sadness and depression can be incredibly difficult to fix and can have a hugely negative effect on your health, life and work. As well as seeing your hearing specialist for advice on dealing with hearing loss, it is vital to reach out for professional help if you are aware that something is not quite right.
Hearing loss in children
Hearing loss can be tough on all sufferers. However, all the previously mentioned emotional and psychological problems associated with hearing loss are likely to be magnified when a child experiences them.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, two to three out of every 1000 kids are born with some form of hearing loss. These kids have to develop their own social and coping skills, attempt to fit in, come to terms with how they are different, and attempt to achieve academic success. This can turn out to be a massive ask for kids and will generally require vastly increased support and help from their parents. The challenge of growing up to become an emotionally stable adult is a mountain of a climb that many fail to summit.
Hearing loss almost certainly changes your life. However, with understanding and the right mindset, it doesn’t have to change who you are. There are people out there who can help and technology that can stop this condition from taking over your life. Whether it is your local hearing specialist or a therapist, the support is out there.