Anxiety is defined as a constant state of alertness. It warns us of danger, but for some, anxiety becomes unregulated, and their bodies react as if everything is a potential danger. Instead of feeling anxious before a big job interview, you may be simmering with dread while making dinner or calling a friend. Your day-to-day life becomes an emotional struggle, and everything seems more daunting than it should.
For others, anxiety can take more than an emotional toll – the symptoms may become physical. These symptoms include nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and heart palpitations. Some may struggle with these feelings their whole lives, while others may find as their hearing worsens, they begin to feel increased anxiety.
Unlike some aging issues which come out of nowhere, hearing loss tends to creep up on you until one day your hearing specialist tells you that you need a hearing aid. This shouldn’t be any different from being told you need glasses, but hearing loss can cause anxiety that doesn’t occur with deteriorating vision for many people. It can happen even if you’ve never experienced serious anxiety before. For those already struggling with anxiety or depression, hearing loss can make it seem even worse.
Why are hearing loss and anxiety linked?
Hearing loss brings new concerns: Did I mishear that price? What if I say ‘huh?’ too many times? Are they annoyed at me for asking them to repeat themselves? Will my kids still call? These concerns escalate as anxiety sets in, which is a normal reaction, especially when daily activities become stressful. If you no longer accept invitations to dinner or larger gatherings, you might want to assess your reasoning. If you’re honest with yourself, you may be turning down invites as a way to avoid the anxiety of struggling to keep up with conversations. While this may help in the short-term, in the long-term, you will grow more isolated, which will lead to additional anxiety.
Am I alone?
You aren’t the only person feeling this way. Anxiety is increasingly common. Roughly 18% of Americans struggle with an anxiety disorder. Recent studies show hearing loss increases the chance of being diagnosed with anxiety, especially when left untreated. The correlation may go the other way, as well. Some studies have shown anxiety increases your chances of suffering from hearing loss. Considering how treatable anxiety and hearing loss are, it’s a shame, so many individuals continue to suffer from both needlessly.
What are the treatment options?
If hearing loss is causing you anxiety, it’s time to get fitted for a hearing aid. Don’t put it off until your next check-up, especially if you’ve noticed a sudden change in your hearing. For many, hearing aids reduce anxiety by preventing miscommunications and embarrassment in social situations. For others, the idea of wearing hearing aids may increase their stress levels.
There is a learning curve with hearing aids that may add to your anxiety if you aren’t prepared for it. It can take weeks to learn the ins and outs of hearing aids and adjust to wearing them. So, don’t get frustrated if you struggle with them at first. If you’re currently wearing hearing aids and still find yourself struggling with anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor. There are many methods to treat anxiety, and your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise, to improve your individual situation.