Anxiety is defined as a persistent state of alertness. Enhanced alertness is a good thing when there’s danger but some people get trapped in a constant state of alertness even when they aren’t in any peril. Instead of feeling anxious before a big job interview, you may be simmering with fear while cooking dinner or talking to a friend. Everything seems more daunting than it typically would and day-to-day life becomes an emotional battle.
For others, anxiety can have more than an emotional impact – the symptoms may become physical. Dizziness, insomnia, nausea, and heart palpitations are some of the physical symptoms. Some may suffer from these feelings their whole lives, while other people may find that as their hearing declines, they begin to feel heightened anxiety.
Hearing loss doesn’t surface suddenly, unlike other age related health challenges, it progresses slowly and typically undetected until suddenly your hearing specialist informs you that you need a hearing aid. This should be similar to finding out you need glasses, but hearing loss can trigger anxiety that doesn’t occur with deteriorating vision for many people. Even if you’ve never dealt with severe anxiety this can still occur. Hearing impairment can make it even worse for people who already suffer from anxiety or depression.
What Did You Say?
Hearing loss creates new concerns: How much did you say that cost? What if I keep saying “huh”? If I keep asking people to repeat themselves, will they begin to get annoyed with me? Will people stop calling me? When everyday tasks become stressful, anxiety intensifies and this is a normal response. If you no longer accept invitations to dinner or larger gatherings, you might want to think about why. Your struggle to hear and understand conversations could be the reason why you keep declining invitations if you’re being honest with yourself. This reaction will eventually lead to even more anxiety as you grapple with the repercussions of self isolation.
Am I Alone?
You’re not the only person feeling this way. It’s increasingly common for people to have anxiety. About 18% of the population struggles with an anxiety condition. Recent studies show hearing loss raises the likelihood of being diagnosed with anxiety, particularly when left untreated. It may work the opposite way too. Some studies have shown that anxiety raises your chances of suffering from hearing loss. It’s unfortunate that people continue to unnecessarily cope with both of these conditions considering how manageable they are.
What Are The Treatment Choices?
If hearing loss is producing anxiety, it’s time to get fitted for a hearing aid. Don’t put it off until your next check-up, particularly if you’ve noticed a rapid change in your hearing. For many, hearing aids minimize anxiety by reducing miscommunications and embarrassment in social situations.
There is a learning curve with hearing aids that may enhance your anxiety if you aren’t prepared for it. Adjusting to wearing hearing aids and learning all of the configurations can take a couple of weeks. So if you struggle a little initially, be patient and try not to get discouraged. If you’re presently wearing hearing aids and still find yourself coping with anxiety, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. There are numerous ways to deal with anxiety, and your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as increased exercise, to benefit your individual situation.