Being in a persistent state of heightened alertness is the definition of anxiety. It warns us of peril, but for some, anxiety goes out of control, and their bodies respond as if everything is a potential threat. Instead of feeling anxious before a big job interview, you may be simmering with dread while cooking dinner or talking to a friend. Your day-to-day life becomes an emotional battle, and everything seems more daunting than it should.
And anxiety, for others, can become more than an emotional issue – the symptoms may become physical. These symptoms include dizziness, insomnia, nausea, and heart palpitations. Some people start to feel a growing sense of anxiety as their hearing worsens while others struggle with some levels of anxiety all their lives.
Hearing loss doesn’t show up suddenly, unlike other age related health challenges, it progresses slowly and often unnoticed until suddenly your hearing professional informs you that you need a hearing aid. This shouldn’t be any different from finding out you need glasses, but failing vision usually doesn’t cause the same level of anxiety that hearing loss does. Even if you’ve never had severe anxiety this can still occur. For individuals already struggling with anxiety or depression, hearing loss can amplify it.
There are new concerns with hearing loss: How much did you say that cost? How many times can I say “huh”? Are they irritated with me for asking them to repeat themselves? Will my kids still call? When daily activities become stressful, anxiety intensifies and this is a normal response. Why are you declining invitations for dinner or staying away from gatherings? If you’re honest with yourself, you may be turning down invites as a way to avoid the anxiety of struggling to hear conversations. While this may help temporarily, over time, you will grow more isolated, which will result in additional anxiety.
Am I Alone?
Others are also going through this. It’s increasingly common for people to be dealing with anxiety. Anxiety conditions are a problem for 18% of the population. Recent studies show hearing loss raises the likelihood of being diagnosed with anxiety, particularly when left untreated. The connection may go the other way as well. According to some research, anxiety will actually raise your chances of developing hearing loss. It’s unfortunate that people continue to needlessly deal with both of these conditions considering how manageable they are.
Options For Treatment
If your anxiety is a result of hearing loss you should make an appointment to be fitted for a hearing aid. Don’t procrastinate and if you notice that your hearing has abruptly changed, come in as soon as you can. Hearing aids minimize embarrassment in social situations by preventing mis-communication which reduces anxiety.
At first your anxiety might increase a little as a result of the learning curve that comes with hearing aids. Adapting to using hearing aids and learning all of the settings can take a couple of weeks. So if you struggle somewhat initially, be patient and try not to get frustrated. If you’re still having issues with anxiety after you’ve had your hearing aids for a while, it’s time to call your doctor. There are numerous methods to manage anxiety, and your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes such as increased exercise, to benefit your individual situation.