Hearing loss has a number of side effects. Experts believe that anxiety, or a heightened state of alertness, may be one of them.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal reaction to a stressful situation. But for 40 million American adults in the United States, these feelings can spiral out of control and lead to an anxiety disorder. Those with an anxiety disorder may experience physical symptoms including dizziness, muscle aches, insomnia, trouble concentrating and nausea.
Mental health professionals categorize anxiety in five different groups:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
Experts believe that the fear, stress and uncertainty of slowing losing your hearing may cause anxiety.
A 2018 study looked at the association between hearing loss and anxiety over a 12-year period. A total of 3,928 participants ages 65 and older completed the study.
Through self-assessments, the researchers observed an increase in anxiety symptoms in older adults with hearing loss. Understanding this relationship can prompt older individuals to seek help for their anxiety, which can improve their overall quality of life.
Social Anxiety or Hearing Loss?
Untreated hearing loss often leads to social isolation and loneliness, as when people find it too hard to be included or keep up in group conversations they may decide to no longer participate.
This is very similar to social anxiety, which leads people to skip parties and other social events ripe with small talk for fear of being judged.
Hearing loss can create situations that can make you feel anxious. Not being able to hear well can cause you to miss clues to tell you if someone is done speaking. If you miss those clues, you may continue to interrupt or be unable to find an opening to speak.
Not being able to hear a joke about the Vandals or catch a witty aside may make you feel left out or socially awkward, especially if you are the only one in the group not laughing.
Treating your hearing loss is a good first step. If your anxiety dissipates once you begin treatment, you know those feelings were related to your loss. If the feelings persist, you should consult a mental health professional. To learn more about the connection between anxiety and hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact the Hearing Zone today.