Anxiety is defined as a persistent state of alertness. It alerts us to danger, but for some people, anxiety goes out of control, and their bodies react as if everything is a potential threat. Instead of feeling anxious before a big job interview, you could be simmering with dread while making dinner or calling a friend. Everything seems more daunting than it usually would and day-to-day life becomes an emotional struggle.
And anxiety, for others, can become more than an emotional issue – the symptoms could become physical. Dizziness, insomnia, nausea, and heart palpitations are some of the physical symptoms. Some individuals start to feel an increasing sense of anxiety as their hearing declines while others struggle with some degree of anxiety their whole lives.
Compared to some aging challenges which appear suddenly, hearing loss tends to sneak up on you until all of a sudden your hearing professional tells you that you need a hearing aid. This shouldn’t be any different from finding out you need glasses, but hearing loss can create anxiety that doesn’t arise with deteriorating vision for many individuals. It can happen even if you’ve never suffered from serious anxiety before. For people already struggling with anxiety or depression, hearing loss can make it seem even worse.
Hearing loss brings new concerns: Did I mishear that price? What if I keep saying “huh”? If I continuously ask people to repeat themselves, will they start to get aggravated with me? Will my children still call? When daily activities become stressful, anxiety intensifies and this is a normal response. Why are you turning down invitations for dinner or staying away from gatherings? Your struggle to hear and understand conversations could be the reason why you keep turning down invitations if you’re being honest with yourself. While this might help temporarily, over time, you will become more isolated, which will lead to increased anxiety.
Am I Alone?
You aren’t the only person feeling like this. It’s increasingly common for people to have anxiety. About 18% of the population copes with an anxiety condition. Recent research shows hearing loss increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with anxiety, particularly when neglected. The correlation could go the other way too. According to some studies, anxiety will actually increase your chances of getting 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 your anxiety is a result of hearing loss you should make an appointment to be fitted for a hearing aid. Don’t wait until your next check-up, especially if you’ve detected a sudden change in your hearing. Hearing aids minimize embarrassment in social situations by preventing miscommunication which reduces anxiety.
There is a learning curve with hearing aids that might enhance your anxiety if you aren’t ready for it. It can take weeks to learn the ins and outs of hearing aids and get used to wearing them. So, don’t get frustrated if you struggle with them initially. 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. There are many ways to deal with anxiety, and your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes such as additional exercise, to benefit your individual situation.