Understanding the Psychological Effects of Hearing Loss

While the average person who has never experienced hearing loss would think of it as a purely medical condition, it is also a condition deeply connected to one’s mental, or psychological health. Not only is being able to hear necessary in order to absorb the environment around us, it is the way in which people primarily communicate, and one of the five basic senses on which people rely. Many people are either born with or develop deafness at some point during their lives and learn to adapt through a variety of means such as wearing hearing aids, or even communicating using nonverbal languages like sign language or writing. These are skills that anybody can learn, but that doesn’t mean the process is any easier. The psychological journey is just as important as the physical remedy, coping skill or cure.

Many people go through an actual period of mourning, and experience a great deal of grief when they first begin to experience hearing loss. Just like a person that loses the ability to see beyond correction, the person will likely feel sad about missing the sounds that were once favorites, and for the sounds which have yet to be heard. Conversation, music, and the sound of loved ones’ voices all fade into the background or disappear entirely, and this is sad in and of itself. There is then the experience of grief over the ease that being able to hear provides a person in a world that uses auditory and verbal communication all the time. While it’s never okay to dwell in one’s grief, this is an important psychological stage to go through, and anyone helping a loved one or family member through this difficult time should patiently allow the person to experience a period of mourning, within reason. Speaking to an audiologist and a psychologist is best whenever possible.iso 45003

Either before, after, or during the process of developing hearing problems, many people go through a stage of denial about their weakening ability to hear. It’s hard to accept change, and many people will blame anything and everything to avoid admitting that their ears just aren’t what they used to be. This is most often seen in those experiencing age related hearing loss, and can be one of the most frustrating psychological effects for friends and family members. It can be hard to convince a person it’s time to get assistance, and can make the loved one and outside party seem like the antagonist, or like a nag. Speaking with an audiologist or psychologist about the individual’s particular fears and concerns about admitting what’s happening can make a big difference on the road to searching for appropriate solutions.

Finally, a person experiencing difficulty or inability to hear may suffer from social anxiety, depression and other social fears, even if they were always a very social and outgoing person. Feeling as though one is missing out on everything around him can be stressful, and cause the individual to entirely withdraw. The benefits of solutions like hearing aids can make a big difference in a person’s long term happiness, so be sure to stress not only that it is important to hear, but to reconnect in a social way for full recovery!

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