The holidays are upon us and this means the shortest days of the year. We fill our homes and porches with lights to bring brightness as the sun sets earlier and earlier. We get presents for our loved ones to invest in our love and connection. However, no matter what you do, this can be a hard time of year. Things we’ve been able to put off or ignore when it was warmer outside come creeping in through long nights and colder days. It’s common to feel depressed and down—however, did you know that hearing loss could be a contributing factor?
Hearing Loss and Depression
Nearly 10% of Americans suffer from depression—a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, depression affects how you feel, think, and behave, leading to a variety of emotional and physical issues. If you are feeling this way, it’s important to look at all the contributing factors. Do you feel like it’s harder to connect to the people in your life than it used to be? Do you feel on the outside when you’re in social situations and struggle to communicate? You may have hearing loss and not even be aware of it.
Hearing loss often develops gradually over years or even decades before it becomes apparent enough to self-diagnose. At this point, hearing loss may already be affecting your everyday interactions, and the quality of your most cherished relationships. At home you may struggle to connect to family members, old friends and even your significant other. At work it could be affecting your co-worker’s confidence in your performance- which ultimately affects your likeliness of promotions and raises. This can quickly build up into lack of confidence and an everyday blow to self-esteem.
Humans are Social Creatures
It’s nice to connect to the people in your life. A rich social life makes us feel connected and part of something larger than ourselves. It is also an important human need for most individuals to some degree, stimulating our minds and inspiring us to stay involved and engaged in our life. When we struggle to hear it affects our likeliness to try new things and go new places. Our mobility and likeliness to connect to others is quickly impacted. Because hearing loss is in most cases, an irreversible condition, it’s the only way to address social and emotional issues is to address hearing loss directly.
Treating Hearing Loss
The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These remarkable devices can amplify sounds and tones which we would otherwise struggle with. This can make it easier for us to connect to the people in our life and feel more confident to go to new places. This is a hard time of year and even with hearing aids, it can take years to start to rebuild relationships and confidence impacted by struggling to hear. We recommend support groups, as a way to share stories and coping mechanisms that can help people who have trouble communicating due to hearing loss. Sometimes, knowing that you are not alone in your hearing loss journey is enough to get back into a lifestyle that allows them to connect and form relationships. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. 1 in 8 people 18-69 struggle to hear in both ears based on standard examinations.
Hearing Loss to Treat Depressive Symptoms
The good news is that over time, studies show that consistent hearing aid use can help. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, and Drexel University, recently found that depressive symptoms decreased by 28 to 31 percent after six months of using hearing aids or cochlear implants to correct hearing loss.
Ideally hearing aids should be worn from the time you wake till it’s time to go to sleep, only to be removed while bathing. While this may seem like a major lifestyle change, we believe that the benefits outweigh the discomfort of the adjustment. Another important study from the National Council on Aging in collaboration with Market Strategies, Inc, found that the more severe a person’s hearing loss was the greater the reduction in depressive symptoms were reported when hearing aids were worn.
Start to shake the winter blues today and schedule a hearing exam with us today!