Are you struggling with mental health? Until recently it wasn’t taken as seriously as it should be. There is a stigma around feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness which often come with shame and a resistance about being open and seeking treatment, especially for an older generation. However, the stigma of mental health is becoming less severe the more we talk about it as a society and on an individual basis. As of 2022, Mental Health America reports about 50 million American adults are experiencing a mental illness. As we age the risk of mental health issues such as loneliness and depression increase due to life changes such as the loss of loved ones, retirement, and health issues.
One health issue which is very common and underestimated as we age is the increasing risk of hearing loss. One in three people 65 years and older suffer from irreversible hearing loss and this number jumps to one in two for those 75 years and older. As we age it is important to take this risk into account, especially as it is a factor which increases the risk of mental health issues.
Hearing Loss at Any Age
While the risk of hearing loss increases with age, it is important to consider the risk at any age. Hearing loss can occur due to exposure to loud noise, an unexpected impact to the head, certain medications, or exposure to environmental toxins, increasing a population of younger people with hearing loss. Due to stigmas around hearing loss only affecting the elderly, many young people with hearing loss are even less likely to seek treatment. In fact, while only 30 percent of people 70 years and older who could benefit from treatment, seek it via hearing aids, this number is only 16 percent for those 12 to 69!
Mental Health Risks of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss all too often increases the instances of mental health issues such as chronic depression, social anxiety and self-isolation leading to increased instances of loneliness, even when surrounded by the people you love. This is because hearing loss is a communication disorder, affecting our ability to hear and respond to the people throughout our lives at work and at home. Those with hearing loss may experience a loss of income due to misunderstandings and higher rates of unemployment. However, at home mental health risks may be more compounded by the decrease in connection and intimacy between friends, family members and even significant others.
In a recent study, it was found that hearing loss increases the risk of depression in adults of all ages, affecting those 18-to 69 year olds the most severely. In a separate study based in Italy, findings showed that working adults aged 35 to 55 years old with untreated mild to moderate hearing loss tended to experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and interpersonal struggles than those without hearing issues.
Treating Hearing Loss
While there is no cure for hearing loss it can be addressed effectively using hearing aids. These amazing digital devices continue to take great strides into the future of hearing enhancements, providing clear sound than ever before and state of the art noise cancelation, tinnitus masking, Bluetooth connectivity and so much more. Not only can they enhance your hearing but using hearing aids daily can allow you to connect with more confidence to the people in your everyday life. Here are just some of the ways that hearing aids can support your mental health:
Treatment can help keep moods stable: When you struggle to hear it can make every day social situation not just confusing and overwhelming but feeling of anxiousness, anger, stress, exhaustion, and loneliness are common. When you become accustomed to a life with hearing aids, you’ll be able to connect with confidence. Many people report less negative emotions in their daily life with the use of hearing aids.
Treatment can improve your quality of life: Quality of life includes many factors such as environment, economic stability, and social life. With hearing aids you’ll be able to stay more active and more likely to try new things. Don’t let a hearing loss hold you back from the life you love and deserve. If you are at risk of hearing loss, don’t put up with it another day. Reach out now and schedule a hearing exam with us.