Does research show that hearing loss and depression are linked? Indeed, it does. Older people are not the only ones affected anymore. As the numbers of those with hearing challenges are on the rise in every age sector, depression also spills over into the younger age groups.
A persistent communication problem
Hearing loss is a persistent communication problem that impacts every aspect of life. Not being able to understand speech—especially in background noise—becomes a serious block to socializing with family and friends. It can also lead to mistakes and misunderstandings at work and to education issues at school.
In support groups, people often describe being alone, judged by others and ignored. Many see themselves on the “outside” of conversations. Especially younger folks express frustration as their social networks weaken. They are seen by their friends as difficult and needy.
All of this plays directly into the hands of isolation and depression. By and by the fun drains out of Holiday parties or family reunions. Social and leisure events become depressing experiences.
Hearing loss often undiagnosed
Most doctors do not test routinely for hearing loss at any age. New Medicare recipients get a most basic screening as part of their entry physical. And so hearing problems go all too often undiagnosed in medical practice. They are ignored as contributing factors to both emotional and physical issues. Symptoms of depression may be treated with medications while hearing loss—the actual cause—goes unrecognized.
Avoid depression! Act now!
It must never get to the point where depression linked to hearing challenges takes the joy out of life. Besides hearing aids, there are so many “assistive” choices out there. Special apps can even turn a smartphone into an assistive device.
That said, watch for the tell-tale symptoms of hearing loss: Do people seem to mumble a lot? Is it a struggle to understand? Must others keep repeating themselves? If so, it is time to get professional hearing tests. The sooner we learn the truth the better it is
As I was heading down the slippery slope of hearing loss and depression, education became tremendously freeing and empowering. I learned about my condition and options for moving forward. I can say that education gave me a new lease on life.
American author and existential psychologist Rollo May tells us that “depression is the inability to construct a future.” That must never, ever happen. There is plenty of help for hearing loss. However, we are the ones who must act on it and give ourselves the chance to move on.
To learn about ears and hearing, please see my book on hearing loss: What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss, now in its second updated edition. Sharing my story and what I had to learn the hard way.