Hearing Loss and Depression
Those who suffer from hearing loss are less likely to participate in social activities, leading to withdrawal and isolation. In turn, these changes in social activity can lead to serious negative emotional consequences, including depression and its related symptoms: anxiety, anger, frustration, paranoia and emotional instability.
Because hearing loss is an "invisible disability", personality changes may not be immediately connected to hearing loss. Due to the increasing prevalence of hearing loss, however, it should be suspected as a possible cause when a loved one begins to withdraw from previously enjoyable social activities.
The answer may be as simple as wearing and using hearing devices. Multiple studies performed by the Better Hearing Institue consistently found significant improvements in psychosocial and cognitive conditions when hearing loss was treated.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has established guidelines for determining when an individual should seek a hearing evaluation. Signs to look for include:
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially when background noise is present.
- The individual isolates him or herself from social gatherings and public situations.
- They watch television or listen to music at a much louder volume than normal.
- They often ask people to repeat themselves.
Because mental health affects so many other facets of an otherwise healthy lifestyle, it’s important to encourage loved ones suffering from depression to seek treatment. Even mild forms of hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of negative emotional experiences. The sooner these are discovered, the better the odds of successful treatment.