This post is part of our “Hearing Loss is Not Harmless” series. This series of posts will walk through several common physical, mental and emotional health conditions that have been found to cause—or be caused by—hearing loss
Hearing Loss and Depression
This past week, conversations (and debates) around depression have sprung up around the country thanks to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF)’s release of their newest guidelines around depression screenings.
The factors that really made headlines are the USPSTF’s recommendations that (1) all adults should be screened for depression and (2) all pregnant and postpartum women should be screened for depression.
While some have focused on the former recommendation and others on the latter, various media including the New York Times, Scientific American, CNN, Time and Public Radio International have covered the new guidelines extensively.
So what does this have to do with hearing loss?
The fact of the matter is that untreated hearing loss is an extremely isolating condition. Straining to hear conversations is stressful and frustrating, which causes people with hearing loss to begin avoiding social situations. Social isolation drives a wedge in your relationships that only gets driven deeper over time, leading to loneliness and even depression.
Connecting with others is a basic human need, but the ability to connect is hampered when hearing loss gets in the way. Hearing loss doesn’t just hurt the person who has it; relationships between spouses, friends and family all suffer when loving words and everyday conversations are no longer effortless.
Difficulty hearing conversations leads to withdrawing from social situations, which leads to fewer phone calls and invitations, which leads to greater social isolation and the potential for depression. It’s a vicious cycle that could be easily stopped by treating hearing loss early on.
If you are suffering from depression, don’t feel shy or embarrassed—your feelings are real and valid, and we recommend seeking help as soon as possible from a trusted medical professional.
**If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Tweet to the lifeline at @800273TALK. Accessibility options for veterans and anyone with a hearing impairment can be found at SuicidePreventionLifeline.org/GetHelp/Accessibility.
Remember, untreated hearing loss is more than just an inconvenience; it has major physical, mental and emotional repercussions. Be sure to ask your primary care physician to perform a hearing test if you’ve been experiencing signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is not harmless.