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How hearing loss can impact mental health

Post on 10th October 2023

Hearing loss affects 12 million people in the UK, with age related hearing loss being the most common cause.

As we get older, our hearing tends to deteriorate due to gradual wear and tear to tiny sensory ‘hair cells’ in the cochlea (hearing organ in the inner ear). Decline in our hearing tends to be gradual, it’s often not identified until the impact on a person’s mental health, and well-being has become significant.

At Scrivens Optician’s & Hearing Care, with more than 85 years’ experience as a leading hearing and eye care specialist in the UK, we highlight some ways in which hearing loss can affect mental health and what you can do to mitigate the risks of experiencing mental health problems:

  1. Social Isolation and Loneliness: Hearing loss can make it difficult to engage in conversations, leading to social isolation and feelings of loneliness. People with hearing loss may avoid social gatherings or withdraw from social activities because they struggle to communicate effectively.
  2. Depression: The sense of isolation and loneliness that often accompanies hearing loss can contribute to the development of depression. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness may arise when individuals feel disconnected from others.
  3. Anxiety: Anxiety is another common mental health issue associated with hearing loss. People with hearing loss may worry about missing important information, misunderstandings, or embarrassing situations that can arise due to communication difficulties.
  4. Reduced Quality of Life: Hearing loss can impact various aspects of a person’s life, such as their ability to work, enjoy hobbies, and maintain relationships. This reduction in overall quality of life can lead to frustration and a decline in mental well-being.
  5. Cognitive Decline: Some studies have suggested a link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline, including an increased risk of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This cognitive decline can also contribute to feelings of frustration and stress.
  6. Low Self-Esteem: Hearing loss can affect self-esteem and self-confidence. Individuals may feel embarrassed because they cannot fully participate in conversations or activities.
  7. Communication Challenges: The effort required to communicate when hearing is impaired can be exhausting. This ongoing struggle to understand and be understood can lead to stress and frustration, negatively impacting mental health.

Hearing loss and its impact on mental health can vary from person to person and will depend on factors such as the severity of hearing loss, individual coping mechanisms and the presence of support systems.

However, seeking timely intervention and treatment, such as hearing aids, can help mitigate many of these negative effects and improve both hearing and mental well-being.

If you have any concerns about your hearing health, you will find help and advice on our website or alternatively visit your local Scrivens branch.

If you found this article useful, you may also be interested in 7 questions to ask yourself before buying a hearing aid.