Hearing Blog

Your source for all things related to Hearing & Deafness.

Anxiety Disorders and Hearing Loss

Anxiety Disorders and Hearing Loss - Hearing, Balance and Speech Center

Have you ever felt anxious about an upcoming situation because of hearing loss? Perhaps you’ve been laughed at for repeating something at a social gathering, or you feel unable to stay in a hotel for fear of not hearing a smoke alarm in the night.

Research has shown that as a hearing loss progresses, so can levels of anxiety. These feelings arise from a fear of the unknown, misinformation or are related to an anxiety disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 19 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder.

These disorders cause excessive worry or anxiety, persisting for at least 6 months. Here’s a brief breakdown of some disorders that can worsen if you also have a hearing loss.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder - Anxiety about events or activities that’s present more days than not.
  • Panic Disorder - Recurrent, unexpected panic attacks.
  • Social Phobia - Persistent fear of social or potentially embarrassing situations.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Personality - An example of this could be the compulsion to keep checking fully charged hearing aid batteries.
  • PTSD - After a traumatic event symptoms related to certain sounds have strong reactions including emotionally.
  • Acute Stress Disorder - Similar to PTSD, symptoms occur within a month of a traumatic stressor.
  • Specific Phobia - Occurs in situations that are difficult to hear in. Leads to social isolation because in order to avoid the negative feelings, events are avoided.
  • Adjustment Disorder with anxiety - Possibly the most common condition related to hearing loss. It can arise within 3 months of a stressor, i.e. a hearing loss diagnosis. Symptoms cause significant distress and limit social and daily interactions.

A review in the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology evaluated 25 studies, including over 17,000 people. Of the 10 studies that compared normal hearing people and hearing impaired, 8 showed that anxiety was more prevalent in those with hearing loss. There was also a link between tinnitus, more severe hearing loss and greater anxiety. It also showed that symptoms decreased after intervention.

We Get It. Seeking Help Can Be Scary

For some, a visit to the hearing center could be enough to spark anxiety.

You may feel vulnerable going to a new place or going to a medical setting. You may worry about the costs and implications of the visit, what will happen afterwards?

It could be nerves about filling in forms, small office spaces or not being able to hear instructions. It can be daunting to think about needing a hearing aid and what other people will think or say about you.

But the evidence is clear, treating a hearing loss may help to reduce anxious feelings. It can take the fear out of many social or daily situations. If you suffer with an anxiety disorder please do mention it, it will help us to better look after your hearing needs.

If you’re ready to book in a hearing assessment, our hearing care professionals are ready to help.

Call us on 1-800-HEAR-IT-1 or book a consultation with us today!

Research / Sources

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00127-018-1638-3
  2. https://journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal/fulltext/2002/04000/Hearing_loss_and_anxiety_in_adults.6.aspx
  3. Kochkin S, Rogin CM: Quantifying the obvious: The impact of hearing instruments on quality of life. Hear Rev 2000;7(1):8–32.