Hearing Loss Exhaustion
Has your hearing loss ever left you feeling drained? Has just trying to adjust to a difficult social situation ever left you so tired and frustrated that you walked out of the room? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you aren’t alone. You are experiencing a side-effect of hearing loss known as hearing loss exhaustion. It is real.
If there just isn’t enough coffee in the world to make it through the day, you might have fatigue related to hearing loss.
Dr. Ervin Hafter, a professor of psychology at the University of California Berkeley, explains that hearing-loss exhaustion occurs because people with hearing loss must do extra mental work just to get through the day. Whether you are trying to keep up with the conversation in a meeting at work or just trying to process the sounds of traffic so you can safely walk down the street, your body is expending lots of energy in the struggle to hear.
No wonder you feel pooped.
Depression Can make it Worse
People that live with hearing loss may also find that they must constantly battle stress and depression. Depression can make that fatigue feel worse. Studies have shown that women in general and those under 70 are at particular risk for depression from hearing loss. David Copithorne, author of the Hearing Mojo blog, writes that as he lost his hearing he realized he was losing the music he loved so much. Even with cochlear implants, he still misses the “full, glorious range of auditory frequencies, tones, and timbre” that came from fully functioning hair cells.
Exercise, meditation, or yoga can help relieve stress and combat depression.
Shari Berts, blogger at Living with Hearing Loss , describes a situation she encountered as the “Circle of Hearing Hell.” It was a group setting where parents faced each other in two rings of chairs. Every few minutes, the people in the inner circle would rotate. The goal was to be able to speak to as many people as possible in just a few minutes. For Shari, who has had hearing loss since her early 20’s, the end result was such exhaustion that she got up and walked away.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just have to protect yourself and remove yourself from the situation. It doesn’t make you a quitter; it makes you sane. A large gathering of family and friends can be exhausting for someone with perfect hearing. For someone with hearing loss it can be extra grueling. If you feel overwhelmed or the beginning of fatigue setting in, just do you what Shari did…walk away.
Stress and Anxiety
Everyday life can be stressful. Coping with hearing loss on top of everyday stress just adds more stress. That stressed out feeling may make you feel anxious about your performance at work or about interactions with friends and family. The anxiety creates more stress. It becomes a never-ending circle.
It is also a circle that causes your body to constantly release adrenaline. The adrenaline is a result of the “fight or flight” response that is supposed to help keep us alive. However, the constant release of adrenaline also wrecks our nervous system. Feelings of complete exhaustion and “burn-out” are the result.
You can try to relax with biofeedback techniques to conquer stress. Another way to combat the stress anxiety circle is with exercise. Thirty minutes of vigorous exercise not only helps burn off the adrenaline, it will also release endorphins that will make you feel good.
Hearing loss exhaustion is very real. If you find yourself experiencing fatigue, stress, or depression, be sure to talk to your doctor or audiologist. They will be able to help with additional tips and techniques to combat the emotional and mental side-effects of hearing loss.