Hearing is a crucial part of our everyday lives. But when that sense starts to go, it affects more than just your ears. It can impact your personal relationships, your professional life, and your overall mental health. Since Wednesday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, we’re taking a closer look at how hearing loss can lead to mental illness – and how to help prevent this from happening.
When it becomes difficult to hear, even simple conversations become difficult. You have to ask people to repeat themselves or nod along pretending you understand what was said. People may even leave you out of the conversation entirely if they know they’ll have to repeat themselves. These factors can be frustrating and start to take an emotional toll. If left untreated, hearing loss can cause social isolation and lead to depression and even cognitive decline.
Reasons to treat hearing loss
In Signia’s “It’s Your Choice” video series, we explore just how damaging hearing loss can be when untreated. The videos follow along as three individuals – Harvey, Danyell, and Robert – acknowledge how hearing loss has affected their lives, visit a hearing care professional, and experience the joys of sound once again with hearing aids. Though their reasons for finally treating their hearing loss differ, their stories share a common theme: their hearing loss was taking a serious toll on them – and the people they love.
A lifetime of working around heavy machinery caused Harvey to develop hearing loss. Though he tried to ignore it, hearing loss led him to become withdrawn around his family and created numerous misunderstandings. Harvey reached a turning point when his grandson asked why he didn’t love him anymore. The reason? Harvey didn’t show up to his track meet because he didn’t hear the invitation. Understanding that his hearing loss was damaging his relationships with those most important to him, he finally decided to get his hearing checked.
For Danyell, single-sided hearing loss caused by meningitis as a child led her to experience what she called a “shadow” on her right side. Danyell grew up feeling alone and that nobody would be there for her. Even as a married adult, she would regularly feel left out of conversations she couldn’t hear, and would have numerous misunderstandings with her husband, family, and friends. However, when fitted with Signia’s CROS hearing aids, that shadow has been lifted and she is no longer left out of conversations – even when someone whispers in her bad ear.
Missing out on the joys of life
Robert’s favorite hobby is going on bike rides – a way to bond with family and friends and even conduct business meetings. As his hearing loss worsened, it become difficult to enjoy this passion. His loved ones also noticed that he would have moments of sadness and depression when out and about. After the urging of his family and friends, Robert decided to get hearing aids. Although he used to struggle to keep up in a conversation, he can now hear other people, birds, and everything else better than he had in decades. He also fully enjoys bike riding once again.
Take the steps to address hearing loss
While hearing loss can affect everyone differently, the risks to mental health are similar. The longer it goes untreated, the worse the effects may be.
Fortunately, hearing loss doesn’t have to diminish your quality of life, and there are many people who can help. From speaking to a mental health counselor to addressing hearing loss with a hearing care professional, taking these steps can help keep your hearing health from negatively affecting your mental health.