Depression and hearing loss are two common conditions that can have major effects on your body. Hearing loss can be linked to other conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and depression can be linked to things like chronic pain and fatigue, but did you know that hearing loss and mental health conditions can be linked to each other?
Here's what you should know about the connection between hearing loss and mental health:
Hearing loss can be caused by many factors including illness, physical injury, age, or genetic abnormalities. It can also be caused by chronic depression and anxiety. Acute stress, like a car accident, might heighten your senses so you are able to navigate through the danger. Consistent mental health conditions, however, can lead to interruptions from what you hear to the signals being sent to your brain. This can cause you to misinterpret information or miss details completely.
Ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, is experienced by over 25 million adults in the United States according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Like hearing loss, tinnitus can have a variety of causes including depression and anxiety. Stress can cause existing tinnitus to flare up and might lead to the development of tinnitus. Anxiety and depression can lead to excessive jaw strain and tension, which can cause inflammation around the ear and ear canal. Mental health disorders can also cause high blood pressure, which can induce pulsatile tinnitus.
For many, depression and anxiety come along after beginning to experience hearing loss. Hearing loss can be an isolating condition when left untreated. You might withdraw from events and gatherings with your loved ones. When you are in social settings, it can be difficult to hear conversations or understand all of what is being said. It can also cause you anxiety to not understand the cause of your hearing loss, especially if it came on suddenly. Many people who experience hearing loss will have these feelings, so you're not alone in having them, but they can greatly impact your mental health.
Hearing loss and depression can put a lot of strain on your daily life. Luckily, there are things you can do yourself to both treat and prevent these conditions. Protect your hearing by avoiding noisy environments and wearing hearing protection when you cannot avoid excess noise. You should also refrain from placing foreign objects in your ears, like cotton swabs. To keep your mind healthy, you can try things like meditation, regular exercise, and regular socialization with your friends and family.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, depression, or a combination of the two, it's important to seek help from a professional. A hearing healthcare provider will be able to help you determine if you are a good candidate for hearing aids. By treating your hearing loss, you may also improve your mental health.