Hearing Loss and Its Effects on Relationships and Mental Health

Reviewed Aug 9, 2017

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

  • People with hearing loss report higher rates of depression.
  • Treating hearing loss can improve quality of life.
  • Know the signs of depression and ask your doctor for help if you have symptoms.

Hearing loss can be hard in many ways. More than just trouble hearing sounds, it can lead to feeling isolated, down, worried, frustrated and tired. What’s more, experts have found a strong link between hearing loss and depression among adults. This is especially true for women.

Older adults who do not treat their hearing loss are also more likely to feel depressed. Since it is harder to hear, they may avoid social situations, which can be lonely. Treating hearing loss can improve quality of life on many fronts. At the same time, it is helpful to know the signs of depression and how to ask for help.

Impact of hearing loss

Hearing loss is linked to a range of issues, and reactions vary:

  • Some people feel stress and anger. This can increase conflicts both at home and at work.
  • Some are too embarrassed to admit they can’t hear and resist help. Yet not treating hearing loss can put safety at risk. For instance, someone with limited hearing may not hear a car approaching as he walks across the street. Or he may not hear an approaching ambulance while behind the wheel of a car.
  • Some people have an easier time accepting that they need help.

In fact, many factors impact how hearing loss affects someone. The toll it takes depends on:

  • When the hearing loss began
  • Whether or not the loss was gradual or sudden
  • How severe the loss is
  • What kind of daily communication needs the person has
  • The person’s personality

Treatment itself also affects everyone differently. Some people have an easier time adjusting to hearing aids than others. But while they can be hard to get used to, hearing aids can improve hearing. As a result, relationships and mental well-being benefit from:

  • Less conflict
  • More engagement
  • Greater awareness of surroundings
  • More self-confidence

On the flip side, Sam Trenton, 39, has seen the effects of his father-in-law’s unwillingness to get help. He misses much of what his grandchildren say. “Seeing him and the kids get frustrated is sad,” says Trenton. Trenton knows his father-in-law will feel better if he accepts his loss and gets help. Yet accepting this loss is a hurdle for many.

Hearing loss and cognitive skills

Hearing is also linked to other brain functions that can affect mood. Some research has connected hearing loss to a decline in cognitive skills. Experts from Johns Hopkins University found that older adults with hearing loss had a faster decline in thinking skills than those without loss. It may be the social isolation caused by hearing loss that is to blame. Yet no matter which changes come first, it is a tough cycle.

How to know if you need help

If you (or someone you love) have a hearing loss, it will help to know how to spot something more serious than stress. Think about how you are feeling. Be aware of these signs of depression:

  • Sad, anxious or empty feelings that don’t ease up
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities you enjoy (including sex)
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Trouble focusing and making decisions
  • Poor sleep
  • Change in eating habits
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Aches or pains that do not get better with treatment

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your primary care doctor. Your doctor may suggest talk therapy or medicine. There are also steps you can take to help yourself, including:

  • Stay active. Get exercise and take part in an activity you once enjoyed.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Spend time with people you care about.

There is help for people with depression as well as hearing loss. Talk to your doctor about ways to both hear and feel better. There are things you can do to improve your quality of life.

Resources

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
www.listeningandspokenlanguage.org

American Academy of Audiology
www.audiology.org

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
www.nidcd.nih.gov

By Sarah Stone
Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/releases/14/Pages/030714.aspx; American Academy of Audiology, www.audiology.org/publications-resources/document-library/untreated-hearing-loss-linked-depression-social-isolation; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, www.asha.org/Aud/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/; Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hearing-loss-may-be-linked-to-mental-decline-201301225824; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml; Better Hearing Institute, www.betterhearing.org/sites/default/files/quality_of_life.pdf

Summary

  • People with hearing loss report higher rates of depression.
  • Treating hearing loss can improve quality of life.
  • Know the signs of depression and ask your doctor for help if you have symptoms.

Hearing loss can be hard in many ways. More than just trouble hearing sounds, it can lead to feeling isolated, down, worried, frustrated and tired. What’s more, experts have found a strong link between hearing loss and depression among adults. This is especially true for women.

Older adults who do not treat their hearing loss are also more likely to feel depressed. Since it is harder to hear, they may avoid social situations, which can be lonely. Treating hearing loss can improve quality of life on many fronts. At the same time, it is helpful to know the signs of depression and how to ask for help.

Impact of hearing loss

Hearing loss is linked to a range of issues, and reactions vary:

  • Some people feel stress and anger. This can increase conflicts both at home and at work.
  • Some are too embarrassed to admit they can’t hear and resist help. Yet not treating hearing loss can put safety at risk. For instance, someone with limited hearing may not hear a car approaching as he walks across the street. Or he may not hear an approaching ambulance while behind the wheel of a car.
  • Some people have an easier time accepting that they need help.

In fact, many factors impact how hearing loss affects someone. The toll it takes depends on:

  • When the hearing loss began
  • Whether or not the loss was gradual or sudden
  • How severe the loss is
  • What kind of daily communication needs the person has
  • The person’s personality

Treatment itself also affects everyone differently. Some people have an easier time adjusting to hearing aids than others. But while they can be hard to get used to, hearing aids can improve hearing. As a result, relationships and mental well-being benefit from:

  • Less conflict
  • More engagement
  • Greater awareness of surroundings
  • More self-confidence

On the flip side, Sam Trenton, 39, has seen the effects of his father-in-law’s unwillingness to get help. He misses much of what his grandchildren say. “Seeing him and the kids get frustrated is sad,” says Trenton. Trenton knows his father-in-law will feel better if he accepts his loss and gets help. Yet accepting this loss is a hurdle for many.

Hearing loss and cognitive skills

Hearing is also linked to other brain functions that can affect mood. Some research has connected hearing loss to a decline in cognitive skills. Experts from Johns Hopkins University found that older adults with hearing loss had a faster decline in thinking skills than those without loss. It may be the social isolation caused by hearing loss that is to blame. Yet no matter which changes come first, it is a tough cycle.

How to know if you need help

If you (or someone you love) have a hearing loss, it will help to know how to spot something more serious than stress. Think about how you are feeling. Be aware of these signs of depression:

  • Sad, anxious or empty feelings that don’t ease up
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities you enjoy (including sex)
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Trouble focusing and making decisions
  • Poor sleep
  • Change in eating habits
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Aches or pains that do not get better with treatment

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your primary care doctor. Your doctor may suggest talk therapy or medicine. There are also steps you can take to help yourself, including:

  • Stay active. Get exercise and take part in an activity you once enjoyed.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Spend time with people you care about.

There is help for people with depression as well as hearing loss. Talk to your doctor about ways to both hear and feel better. There are things you can do to improve your quality of life.

Resources

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
www.listeningandspokenlanguage.org

American Academy of Audiology
www.audiology.org

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
www.nidcd.nih.gov

By Sarah Stone
Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/releases/14/Pages/030714.aspx; American Academy of Audiology, www.audiology.org/publications-resources/document-library/untreated-hearing-loss-linked-depression-social-isolation; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, www.asha.org/Aud/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/; Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hearing-loss-may-be-linked-to-mental-decline-201301225824; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml; Better Hearing Institute, www.betterhearing.org/sites/default/files/quality_of_life.pdf

Summary

  • People with hearing loss report higher rates of depression.
  • Treating hearing loss can improve quality of life.
  • Know the signs of depression and ask your doctor for help if you have symptoms.

Hearing loss can be hard in many ways. More than just trouble hearing sounds, it can lead to feeling isolated, down, worried, frustrated and tired. What’s more, experts have found a strong link between hearing loss and depression among adults. This is especially true for women.

Older adults who do not treat their hearing loss are also more likely to feel depressed. Since it is harder to hear, they may avoid social situations, which can be lonely. Treating hearing loss can improve quality of life on many fronts. At the same time, it is helpful to know the signs of depression and how to ask for help.

Impact of hearing loss

Hearing loss is linked to a range of issues, and reactions vary:

  • Some people feel stress and anger. This can increase conflicts both at home and at work.
  • Some are too embarrassed to admit they can’t hear and resist help. Yet not treating hearing loss can put safety at risk. For instance, someone with limited hearing may not hear a car approaching as he walks across the street. Or he may not hear an approaching ambulance while behind the wheel of a car.
  • Some people have an easier time accepting that they need help.

In fact, many factors impact how hearing loss affects someone. The toll it takes depends on:

  • When the hearing loss began
  • Whether or not the loss was gradual or sudden
  • How severe the loss is
  • What kind of daily communication needs the person has
  • The person’s personality

Treatment itself also affects everyone differently. Some people have an easier time adjusting to hearing aids than others. But while they can be hard to get used to, hearing aids can improve hearing. As a result, relationships and mental well-being benefit from:

  • Less conflict
  • More engagement
  • Greater awareness of surroundings
  • More self-confidence

On the flip side, Sam Trenton, 39, has seen the effects of his father-in-law’s unwillingness to get help. He misses much of what his grandchildren say. “Seeing him and the kids get frustrated is sad,” says Trenton. Trenton knows his father-in-law will feel better if he accepts his loss and gets help. Yet accepting this loss is a hurdle for many.

Hearing loss and cognitive skills

Hearing is also linked to other brain functions that can affect mood. Some research has connected hearing loss to a decline in cognitive skills. Experts from Johns Hopkins University found that older adults with hearing loss had a faster decline in thinking skills than those without loss. It may be the social isolation caused by hearing loss that is to blame. Yet no matter which changes come first, it is a tough cycle.

How to know if you need help

If you (or someone you love) have a hearing loss, it will help to know how to spot something more serious than stress. Think about how you are feeling. Be aware of these signs of depression:

  • Sad, anxious or empty feelings that don’t ease up
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities you enjoy (including sex)
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Trouble focusing and making decisions
  • Poor sleep
  • Change in eating habits
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Aches or pains that do not get better with treatment

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your primary care doctor. Your doctor may suggest talk therapy or medicine. There are also steps you can take to help yourself, including:

  • Stay active. Get exercise and take part in an activity you once enjoyed.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Spend time with people you care about.

There is help for people with depression as well as hearing loss. Talk to your doctor about ways to both hear and feel better. There are things you can do to improve your quality of life.

Resources

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
www.listeningandspokenlanguage.org

American Academy of Audiology
www.audiology.org

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
www.nidcd.nih.gov

By Sarah Stone
Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/releases/14/Pages/030714.aspx; American Academy of Audiology, www.audiology.org/publications-resources/document-library/untreated-hearing-loss-linked-depression-social-isolation; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, www.asha.org/Aud/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/; Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hearing-loss-may-be-linked-to-mental-decline-201301225824; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml; Better Hearing Institute, www.betterhearing.org/sites/default/files/quality_of_life.pdf

Suggested Items

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.