Anxious. Frustrated. Isolated. Depressed.
Like it or not, these words go hand-in-hand with hearing impairment for many people. Hearing loss can mean that social situations become a challenge. Even if you can hear the person next to you, the barrage of background noise can be confusing and means you have to concentrate harder to take part in conversation.
The associated anxiety and depression are not a sign of mental weakness, but rather the brain’s reaction to the increased strain when you struggle to hear. Research shows that even mild hearing loss places an additional burden on the brain as it works harder to decode the sound and make sense of it.
The statistics speak volumes. A study  in 2014 shows hearing loss is linked to a measurable increase in the risk of depression. While adults of any age can be affected, those between 18 and 69 years were impacted the most. Similar research in Italy  looking at 35-55 year olds with mild to moderate hearing loss found they had increased levels of anxiety and were more self-critical when talking to other people, which made them more prone to depression than those with normal hearing.
While the exact mechanism behind this is not proven, scientists have a theory. It’s thought the reason behind these mood changes is that the concentration necessary to decode muffled sounds places an extra burden on the parts of the brain concerned with logic and reasoning. This makes them less available to concentrate on framing a reply, and can leave the person with feelings of frustration and inadequacy.
The good news is that no one has to suffer in silence. Follow-up research indicates that these changes are reversible with the help of a professionally fitted hearing aid or assistive technology.
A hearing aid restores self-confidence in social situations. It allows the user to once again take an active part in conversation and become fully engaged with what’s going on around them. This leads to improved feelings of independence and helps people feel in control again. Alongside this are the benefits of improved emotional health and lowered risk of depressive illness.
Booking a hearing check is about more than the desire to hear clearly. Research shows intensive listening is hard work, and having hearing support, whether through a hearing aid or listening device, reduces the pressure on the parts of the brain concerned with cognition. This helps you feel better about yourself and keeps you engaged in the social activities you love, so those feelings of anxiety, frustration, and depression become a thing of the past. Hearing can be fun again.