Anxiety is defined as a persistent state of alertness. Elevated alertness is a good thing when there’s a threat but some individuals get trapped in a continual state of alertness even when they’re not in any peril. 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 conflict, and everything seems more overwhelming than it should.
And anxiety, for others, can become more than an emotional issue – the symptoms could become physical. Insomnia, dizziness, nausea, and heart palpitations are a few of the physical symptoms. Some might suffer from these feelings all of their lives, while other people might find that as their hearing gets worse, they begin to feel increased anxiety.
Unlike some aging challenges which come out of nowhere, hearing loss tends to sneak up on you until all of a sudden your hearing specialist informs you that you need a hearing aid. This shouldn’t be any different from being told you need glasses, but failing vision usually doesn’t trigger the same level of anxiety that hearing loss does. Even if you’ve never dealt with severe anxiety this can still happen. For individuals already faced with anxiety or depression, hearing loss can amplify it.
What Did You Say?
Hearing loss produces new worries: Did I mishear that price? What if I say ‘huh?’ too many times? If I keep asking people to repeat what they said, will they begin to get aggravated with me? Will my children still call? When everyday activities become stressful, anxiety intensifies and this is a common response. Why are you turning down invitations for dinner or steering clear of gatherings? Your struggle to hear and understand conversations could be the reason why you keep declining invitations if you’re being truthful with yourself. While this may help in the short-term, in the long-term, you will feel more isolated, which will lead to additional anxiety.
Am I Alone?
Others are also experiencing this. Anxiety is becoming more and more common. Roughly 18% of the population copes with an anxiety condition. Recent research shows hearing loss increases the chance of being diagnosed with anxiety, particularly when left untreated. It could work the opposite way too. According to some research, anxiety will actually increase your chances of developing hearing loss. Considering how treatable anxiety and hearing loss are, it’s a shame so many people continue to cope with both needlessly.
Choices For Treatment
If hearing loss is causing you anxiety, it’s time to get fitted for a hearing aid. Don’t procrastinate and if you find that your hearing has suddenly changed, come in as soon as you can. For many, hearing aids decrease anxiety by reducing mis-communications and embarrassment in social situations.
There is a learning curve with hearing aids that could add to your anxiety if you aren’t prepared for it. It can take weeks to determine the ins and outs of hearing aids and get used to using them. So if you struggle somewhat at first, be patient and try not to get discouraged. If you’re still having problems with anxiety after you’ve had your hearing aids for a while, it’s time to call your doctor. Your doctor can recommend one or more of the numerous strategies to treat anxiety like more exercise or a lifestyle change.