The Connection Between Happiness and Hearing Loss

Dr. Howard Tamashiro

Happiness and Hearing Loss – the Connections

The physical symptoms of hearing loss–ringing in the ears, difficulty understanding conversations–may be immediately apparent or more subtle and difficult to recognize. But what about the emotional symptoms? Studies show that hearing damage can have a significant effect on a person’s mental and emotional well-being, often leading to feelings of anxiety, frustration, and depression. If hearing loss goes untreated these feelings may worsen over time, but hearing aids can go a long way towards mitigating these negative effects. Let’s look some of the ways treating hearing loss can have a positive impact on one’s overall happiness and quality of life.

Personal Relationships

Generally, our happiest and most memorable moments are those spent with friends and family. So what happens when we are suddenly unable to hear conversations in a public place? Or when it becomes difficult to understand our loved ones, even in a quiet room? Being social can become frustrating and upsetting with untreated hearing loss, and this can put a heavy strain on personal relationships. As hearing damage leads to more and more misunderstandings, a person may feel it is easier to withdraw — and this self-imposed isolation can, in turn, lead to depression. However, studies show that once people are fitted with hearing aids, relationships with family members can significantly improve. Involving one’s significant others in treatment, and discussing communication strategies, may also improve one’s overall satisfaction and quality of life.

Maintaining an Active Lifestyle

Staying active, both socially and physically, has an invaluable impact on one’s mental well-being. While hearing loss can cause a person to withdraw from the social activities, treating this loss with hearing aids makes it possible to reconnect with the things that they once loved. Whether it be in the workplace, at a social event such as a concert, or taking a walk in nature with a loved one, a person’s day-to-day experiences will be enhanced by the ability to appreciate the sounds in the world around them. Not only does staying active lead to a happier disposition, but it has also been shown to prevent hearing loss. This is an important consideration at any age, but especially if you have children, as hearing loss prevention can never start too soon.

Managing Tinnitus

Tinnitus, the ringing in the ears that often accompanies hearing damage, can be difficult to live with. Especially in severe cases, the constant unwelcome sound can lead to serious anxiety and depression. But hearing aids, which often come with a tinnitus management program, can go a long way towards reducing the negative impacts of this condition, leading to greater overall contentment and less anxiety overall.

Hearing Aids and Depression

Depression is very common, affecting more than 15 million adults in the United States alone. In several studies, untreated hearing loss has been linked to this condition, and older people who have hearing loss are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression than those without it. So why does hearing loss so often go untreated?

It may be difficult to recognize the signs of hearing loss when a person first starts to become hearing impaired, and some, after recognizing the symptoms, may still postpone treatment out of fear or embarrassment. Consequently, only 20% of people in the U.S. who would benefit from hearing devices seek treatment, and those who do decide to go for an initial diagnosis wait, on average, seven years before being fit with their first set of hearing aids.

One of the most important elements of treating hearing-loss related depression is being fitted with hearing aids. If you feel that you or a loved one may be affected by hearing damage, the first step is acknowledging this possibility so that the path to successful treatment, and greater happiness, can begin.

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