As noted by Web MD, hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk of depression among individuals younger than 70. This is hardly surprising, as the loss of any sense can be a traumatic and difficult experience. With social and professional interaction increasingly taking place online — and a frequent lack of accessible communication — the struggle is only more pronounced.
Consider the following:
- A survey of hearing impaired individuals aged 70+ by the University of Manchester found higher rates of depression, loneliness, and memory issues.
- A study conducted in the United Arab Emirates found deaf individuals to be particularly susceptible to the mental health impact of the pandemic. Still, those who didn’t live alone struggled significantly less.
- A survey published in The BMJ revealed that D/deaf healthcare workers have felt particularly depressed and demoralized during the pandemic, in part due to widespread systemic discrimination.
While treatment for mental disorders does not fall within the scope of an audiologist’s practice, we nevertheless bear frequent witness to their impact. We also recognize that aural rehabilitation strategies are only part of the equation. It’s why in addition to receiving treatment for hearing disorders, it’s always advisable to speak to a registered therapist, as well.
Alongside therapy, it’s crucial that anyone suffering from hearing loss develop effective coping strategies to help ward off and cope with depression. We’ve included a few of the most effective below.
Immerse Yourself in Your Hobbies — New and Old
Some people with late-onset hearing loss may shift their interests, developing new hobbies that they feel are better suited for their condition. Others may simply adapt and continue enjoying the things they were passionate about prior to experiencing hearing loss. Both are perfectly valid responses.
The important thing is to find something that sparks your passion. A hobby through which you can find enjoyment, happiness, and fulfillment. A medium through which you can express your fears, feelings, and frustrations.
Find Common Ground
You are not alone.
That’s the most important advice we can give you. There are many individuals who are either experiencing a similar struggle to yours or have experienced it in the past. They offer a unique perspective you won’t find anywhere else.
More importantly, they’re a source of inspiration, interaction, and friendship. By joining your local Deaf community (or finding a support group online), you can make new friends who truly understand how you feel. That, in turn, can create a sense of belonging that helps carry you through even the most difficult days.
Explore New Communication Methods
Difficulty communicating represents one of the most frequent struggles encountered by someone who’s experienced recent hearing loss. This may be accompanied by feelings of social anxiety, isolation, or hopelessness. At the lowest point, one cannot help but wonder about their self-worth.
You are neither broken nor without options.
It may help to find a new means of communication, a means of bridging the gulf between yourself and your friends and loved ones. Perhaps that involves a visit to your audiologist to get fitted for a hearing aid or exploring the possibility of a cochlear implant. Maybe you’ll try learning sign language or use messaging tools as an alternative.
There’s no wrong answer here — go with whatever you feel is the best fit.
Hearing is a sense that many of us take for granted, and its loss can be experienced both physically and emotionally. Hearing impairment can be challenging to cope with at any level, but it is not a struggle you need to face by yourself, nor are you without coping mechanisms.
You’ll get through this.