Hearing Loss and its Impact on Mental Health

Guest Blog by Isabella Fisher Independent Hearing Care

It is estimated that 11 million people in the UK have hearing loss. This makes it the second most common disability. Just because we cannot see hearing loss however, doesn’t meant mean people aren’t suffering. 

One of the biggest challenges those with hearing loss face is maintaining effective communication. We live in a world where technology is king with face to face interactions favoured by telephones and automated machines. In addition, we are surrounded by noise from the everyday hustle and bustle outside to loud music inside shops and restaurants. This combination makes it incredibly difficult for those with hearing loss and can have a huge impact on their mental health. 

Embarrassment, frustration and feeling left out

When trying to communicate in noisy settings, many with hearing loss find themselves asking others to repeat themselves. They may even avoid joining in the conversation in fear of mishearing or perhaps just nod along not following what is being said. This, understandably can be very embarrassing. Not only that, it is incredibly frustrating when certain settings make clear communication even more difficult. Screens dividing staff along with loud music and dim lighting can leave those with hearing loss feeling left out with a negative self-worth. 

Social isolation, loneliness and depression

Many with hearing loss start to avoid situations where they know they will struggle to hear and communicate. It may begin with declining invitations to big parties leading to complete withdrawal from everything they know and love. Humans are social creatures who need interaction with others to feel fulfilled and mentally healthy. Hearing is one of the most important senses as it connects people to the world around them. A lack of social interaction has a negative impact on mental health causing loneliness and depression. 

Cognitive decline

Studies suggest that those with hearing loss find conversation more tiring than those without. This is because the brain becomes overloaded from trying to understand speech. It has to take resources from other crucial functions such as remembering and thinking. This coupled with a lack of stimulation from social isolation can lead to cognitive decline. This in turn can open the door to dementia. 

It is important to create a world where everyone can feel included and part of the conversation. Individuals, businesses and organisations can make small changes which would mean the world to those with hearing loss:

  • Create well-lit spaces 
  • Remove physical barriers such as screens between shop counters 
  • Be mindful to speak clearly 
  • Keep background noise to a minimum where possible 
  • Have physical interactions instead of telephone calls 

There is also help out there for those with hearing loss in the form of hearing devices. A full hearing assessment with an audiologist is a good place to start. They can assess the hearing and make recommendations on how best to move forward. At Independent Hearing Care we believe that helping people to hear is about knowing how to listen. We can provide you with the products and support you need to feel connected to the world once again. We can help you to hear in difficult listening situations allowing you to live life to the full maintaining positive mental health. 

isabella Fisher, owner of Independent Hearing Care is talking to a client in her clinic. On the desk between them is a large anatomical model of the ear.