The Connection Between Hearing Problems and Depression

February 16, 2018By: VocoVision

Have you ever considered how much the ability to hear can affect your mental health? What about the health of a loved one?

Nearly 17% of the American population has some type of hearing problem but hasn’t sought treatment. The reasons differ but often lie in not knowing they have a problem to begin with. The ages groups vary but an overwhelming number of aging adults with hearing problems also experience depression. There is also a concern that people who suffer from a hearing problem also have a decline in cognitive function. 

Hearing problems may present in one of two ways:

  1. May perceive sounds but not be able to process them into meaningful speech.
  2. Not be able to hear sounds and therefore struggle navigating the world around them.

In either instance, seeking treatment early is paramount to improving a person’s quality of life.

Causes of Hearing Problems

Hearing problems can begin in infancy or not appear until much later in life. A common misconception among people is hearing problems only affect older, aging adults, but research has shown that while there is a large population of older adults that experience hearing problems, any age group can be affected.

There are numerous reasons that someone is experiencing hearing loss or hearing problems. In young children, the problem may be present at birth or be the cause of serious infections, such as an ear infection or other bacterial or viral infection. Other people may experience hearing problems as the result of a serious brain injury from a fall, an accident, heart problems, medications, tumors, or a stroke. A person who is constantly exposed to loud noises can develop hearing problems. Age also contributes to hearing problems or loss with a continuous decline as a person gets older.

The Impact on Mental Health

Hearing problems in both the young and old make it difficult to communicate and be understood by those around them. Doctors and speech pathologists understand that hearing problems can be the beginning of deteriorating health.

A person with hearing problems may become isolated because of their struggle to hear or communicate with others. They avoid social or noisy situations over fear and/or embarrassment they won’t hear or understand what people are saying. Anxiety and paranoia can be an additional result of hearing problems.

When people feel isolated, they often stay in their homes and withdraw from society. Older adults may associate their hearing problems with getting old because of the stigma between aging and hearing problems. Communication disorders can further impact a person’s mental health, especially if the cause is due to an underlying hearing problem.

There are a variety of treatments for people who have hearing problems but before they can be treated, they must see a doctor to conduct a hearing screening. Hearing screenings are generally very simple and can provide much-needed answers to someone suffering from hearing problems. From there, a person can begin receiving the services and/or tools they need to communicate with friends, family, teachers, or coworkers.

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