Hearing loss has multifaceted effects that go beyond hearing challenges. Impaired hearing reduces capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound which strains communication – an essential way we move through everyday life. Strained communication impacts relationships, work life, social engagement, and overall health and wellness. In fact, a new study shows that while 11% of people were concerned with the medical impact of hearing loss, 89% cited social and personal effects as their primary concern. This highlights the significant toll hearing loss can have on social and mental health. Fortunately, treating hearing loss can support and boost mental health and quality of life.
Link Between Hearing Loss & Declining Mental Health
Extensive research shows that hearing loss can impact mental health in significant ways. This includes taking a toll on communication and relationships as well as increasing the risk of developing depressive symptoms. The following two studies explore these links:
- A 2020 study conducted by Clear Living, a healthcare and lifestyle platform, evaluated the impact of hearing loss on mental health and social wellness. Researchers surveyed 3,767 participants who were impacted by hearing loss. The majority of participants listed social and personal issues as the most significant areas of life that were affected. Key findings include:
- 89% of participants cited social and personal problems as key impact of hearing loss
- 58% of participant’s statements say that their relationships had suffered
- 39% of participants claimed that their conversations had declined or were harder to follow
- 30% found watching TV difficult while
- 35% struggled being out with friends in public places.
This data shows the significant impact hearing loss has on relationships, communication, and daily activities which affect mental health and overall wellness.
2. A major study that examines the link between hearing loss and depressive symptoms reveals a significant correlation. Researchers analyzed results from hearing tests and responses from a questionnaire that assessed depressive symptoms for 18,318 participants. Researchers found that the prevalence of moderate to severe depression was
- 4.9% for individuals reporting excellent hearing
- 11.4% for people who reported a little to greater hearing loss
These findings reveal that people with hearing loss were more than twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms.
These studies highlight the toll hearing loss can take on key aspects of mental health: relationships, communication, and happiness.
Impact of Hearing Loss on Mental Health
Impaired hearing results in a range of symptoms that not only impact hearing, but health and everyday wellbeing which impacts mental health in critical ways including:
- Strained communication: symptoms like tinnitus – a ringing or buzzing noise in the ears, sounds being muffled or distorted, and difficulty hearing speech in environments with background noise make it challenging to engage in conversations. Communication becomes tough and requires more energy which can cause miscommunication and unpleasant interactions. People with untreated hearing loss often overexert themselves in trying to hear which can produce fatigue and stress.
- Leads to social withdrawal: because conversations become so challenging to engage in, people often avoid them as much as possible. This means spending less time with loved ones, not participating in favorite activities or hobbies as much, and skipping out on social activities. Social withdrawal produces loneliness, anxiety, isolation etc. which increases the risk of developing depression.
Treatment Boosts Mental Health
Treating hearing loss has transformative benefits that boost mental health and quality of life. Hearing aids are the most common treatment and these electronic devices help absorb and process speech as well as sound. This alleviates symptoms and increases one’s capacity to hear which strengthens communication. It also enables people to move through social settings, participate in activities, and engage in everyday tasks with much greater ease and comfort. This also strengthens relationships and supports social connection which also reduces depressive symptoms. Studies have shown that hearing aids continue to reduce depressive symptoms the more they are worn.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. We look forward to helping you prioritize your hearing health!