Hearing loss doesn’t just make it harder to understand sounds. It can negatively affect mental health as well. Research has shown that older adults may be especially at risk.
Aging and Hearing Loss
While hearing loss can develop at any age, it’s much more common in older adults. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), “approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.”
Because it’s common, some older adults just assume that hearing loss is an inevitable part of aging that doesn’t require treatment. However, not treating your hearing loss can lead to serious consequences, including increasing your risk of depression.
Seniors With Hearing Loss at a Higher Risk of Depression
A study published in The Gerontologist in April 2020 looked at data from 35 previous studies of patients who were 60 years or older. They found that older adults with some form of hearing loss were 47% more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression.
Why This Happens
There are a number of reasons why untreated hearing loss can worsen a person’s mental health, including:
- Strains relationships. Hearing loss makes it harder to communicate with others. This can put a strain on existing relationships as well as make it harder to form new connections. Having strong social bonds is extremely beneficial to our mental health. Any fracture in those can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness.
- Increase worry. Hearing loss can increase stress levels in a variety of ways. You may start to worry that you’ll miss important information during a work meeting or have an embarrassing misunderstanding at a large social event.
- Increased mental fatigue. When you struggle to hear, you have to put in more effort to understand what is happening around you. This can lead to more frequent bouts of mental fatigue, which can increase stress levels and anxiety.
- Reduced physical activity. Hearing loss can sometimes also affect your balance. Balance problems can leave you feeling disoriented and cause you to reduce your physical activity, which can increase feelings of depression and anxiety.
Can Treating Hearing Loss Benefit Your Mental Health?
Treating your hearing loss with hearing aids makes it easier to socialize with others and avoid missing important sounds or communications. By helping you feel more confident in your ability to hear, they allow you to focus on what’s important, like connecting with your grandchildren when out to eat at Blue Plate Café. Staying connected is essential to your mental health and overall well-being.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our hearing specialists, call North Alabama ENT Associates today.