In the United States, estimates from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) show that approximately 28.8 million American adults who could benefit from using a hearing aid are not using one. Outside of impaired hearing, untreated hearing loss has wider effects on an individual. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), hearing impaired people who do not use a hearing aid are more likely to report anxiety, depression, and more. On our blog today, we’re taking a look at how treating hearing loss can help your mental health.
The Impact Of Untreated Hearing Loss
A study from the NCOA shows that an individual with untreated hearing loss will report higher levels of social isolation. The study looked at seniors with a hearing loss, both those who are treating it with hearing aids and those who are not. Those with a mild, untreated hearing loss, were 20% less likely to regularly participate in social activities. This increases to 24% for individuals with more severe hearing loss. Alongside social isolation, higher levels of worry and anxiety have also been linked to untreated hearing loss.
Unfortunately, anxiety and social isolation can result in a vicious cycle. The longer the hearing loss remains untreated, the worse the impact on your mental health can be. An individual will often find it easier to stay at home, alone, and avoid outside interaction rather than deal with the potential embarrassment caused by difficulty hearing. This can increase feelings of isolation and depression, both of which can impact your mental health.
Who Is At Risk?
Hearing loss can impact anyone at any age and vary in severity. A 2014 study found adults aged 18-69 (working age) with untreated hearing loss were at the greatest risk of poor mental health. Studies seem to agree that even if you have mild hearing loss, leaving it untreated will put you at higher risk for mental health problems.
With the evidence of this connection mounting, professionals such as David Myers, Ph.D of Hope College, highlights that, “Anger, frustration, depression and anxiety are all common among people who find themselves hard of hearing,”
But there is hope. Myers also stated that, “Getting people to use the latest in hearing aid technology can help them regain control of their lives, and achieve emotional stability and even better cognitive functioning.”
The Benefits Of Treatment
Once a hearing loss has been diagnosed, the treatment options can be explored. For many, hearing aids are a suitable treatment option for their hearing loss. Positively, studies are continuing to highlight that treating a hearing loss with hearing aids improves the quality of their lives. The NCOA study showed that half of the study participants reported improved feelings about themselves with the use of hearing aids. Many also reported improved feelings of confidence and independence, both of which can positively impact our overall mental wellbeing.
At Hearing Balance and Speech Center, we understand that seeking help for a suspected hearing loss is often the hardest first step. Our hearing care professionals are on hand to help you through the process. Hearing assessments are quick and painless, and treating your hearing loss can go a long way towards improving your quality of life. To book in an assessment today, call us on 1-800-HEAR-IT-1. Book a consultation with us today.
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