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What Is the Connection Between Hearing Loss and Anxiety?

If you suspect your hearing has gotten worse, or if you have recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, you may be feeling anxious. Anxiety, which is a persistent heightened state of alert, is normal with any stressful situation, including those related to your health and wellbeing. However, when normal anxiety becomes long-lasting and invasive, it becomes a disorder in and of itself. Over the years, research has shown that hearing loss and anxiety are connected. What is that connection?
Types of Anxiety
Mental health professionals generally distinguish between five types of anxiety:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

Hearing loss may be related to various types of anxiety. For example, if you are involved in an accident or injury that leads to sudden hearing loss, you may experience post-traumatic stress disorder. On the other hand, if you have hearing loss but are constantly looking for symptoms of dementia, you may have generalized anxiety disorder.
In addition to causing constant “what if” worries, anxiety can also cause physical symptoms. These may include nausea, muscle aches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, or a feeling of dread. If anxious thoughts and physical symptoms are persistent and interfere with your quality of life, it may be time to seek professional help.
The Link between Hearing Loss and Anxiety
If you have hearing loss, you may feel that you have a lot to worry about. What if you don’t hear something important? What if you can’t hear someone talking at dinner? What if you miss the punchline to a joke? What if your hearing aid batteries die? What if you misunderstand someone and embarrass yourself? These “what if” scenarios could go on and on.
Research supports the link between hearing loss and anxiety. In one study of nearly 4,000 French people aged 65 and older that was conducted over a 12-year period, researchers found that people diagnosed with hearing loss at the beginning of the study had a greater likelihood of developing anxiety symptoms over time. Another study of more than 1,700 adults aged 76 to 85 found that having mild hearing loss resulted in a 32 percent higher risk of reporting anxiety. For those with moderate or higher hearing loss, the risk of anxiety increased to 59 percent.
The connection between hearing loss and anxiety seems to go the other way, too. One study of more than 10,500 adults in Taiwan found that those with an anxiety disorder had a greater risk of sudden hearing loss. In the French study mentioned above, participants who reported generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) but not hearing loss at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop hearing loss than those without GAD.
Worry about Hearing Loss vs. Social Anxiety
If you have hearing loss, you may feel anxious about social situations. How can you tell whether you have social anxiety or you’re simply worried about social interactions?
In general, people with social anxiety feel anxious about any situation in which they might be negatively judged, whether it’s a date, job interview, party, small talk, or group lunch. If you have hearing loss, you may also feel anxious about social situations, especially if you are worried about not being able to hear, about mishearing other people, or about feeling left out. If you can solve your worries by using a hearing aid, you probably don’t have social anxiety. If you feel anxious about social situations but still enjoy being around people, your social anxiety may be mild. If you have extreme social anxiety, simply sitting near other people could make you anxious.
The Takeaway
Research has shown that hearing loss and anxiety are connected, although further research remains to be done to explore exactly how these two conditions are linked. Fortunately, anxiety is highly treatable. If you believe that you have anxiety—whether or not you think it’s related to hearing loss—you can seek help from a medical doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. Of course, hearing aids are available to treat hearing loss as well, which may alleviate some of your anxious thinking.
To learn more about the link between hearing loss and anxiety, we welcome you to contact our office today. We are happy to provide the information you need.

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Getting Your Hearing Checked Can Improve Your Mood. Here’s Why.

For many people, your hearing is a part of your health that you take for granted—until you notice a problem. If you experience hearing loss or another issue with your hearing, such as tinnitus, you understand that hearing is an important part of your overall health. Your hearing plays into your well-being and quality of life, so it is essential that you be proactive about your hearing health. In addition, getting your hearing checked can improve your mood as well. Here’s why.
The Connection between Mental Health and Physical Health
Your mental health and physical health are closely linked. This is why you might feel down when you are ill or are experiencing physical health challenges. Of course, this applies to more than a cold or the flu, which might make you feel glum for a few days. Taking care of your physical health—including your hearing—can benefit your mental health.
For just a moment, forget about learning how good your hearing is and whether you need treatment. The simple act of getting your hearing checked signals to your mind that you are taking care of your physical health and being proactive, which can lead to improved mood and mental health. Even before you learn the results of your hearing test, you may notice an elevated mood. Putting in the time and effort to take care of yourself physically can pay off in your mental health.
The Link between Hearing Health and Depression
Numerous studies have shown that hearing loss and depression are linked. Adults with hearing loss, especially untreated hearing loss, are more likely to suffer from depression. While this doesn’t mean you will definitely experience depression if you have hearing loss, it is certainly a link to be aware of.
Because of this connection, it is important to get your hearing checked on a regular basis. This will enable you to better understand the current state of your hearing health and take action if needed. Again, those with untreated hearing loss are at a greater risk for depression, so getting tested and treating any hearing loss can help to lower your risk for depression and improve your mood. You can also feel good from knowing that you are taking care of both your physical and mental health by having your hearing checked.
Address Hearing Loss Directly
In retrospect, many people find that they did not address their hearing loss as directly as they wish they would have. Perhaps they were in denial that they were experiencing hearing loss, or maybe they were reluctant to use hearing aids. On an unconscious (or in some cases, conscious) level, these people knew they were leaving their hearing health untreated.
Being proactive and addressing hearing loss directly can boost your mood and help you feel good about yourself and how you are caring for your health. In addition, being more direct about taking care of your hearing can be beneficial in helping you get the treatment you need for hearing loss.
For more information about how getting your hearing checked can improve your mood, or to schedule your appointment for a hearing test with our professional team, we welcome you to contact our hearing practice today.