Depression and Hearing Loss

By Shanna Groves (a.k.a. Lipreading Mom)

Originally posted at:

http://www.LipreadingMom.com

Sometimes, Lipreading Mom receives comments that are too important not to share with readers. This is one of them. One of my readers–I’ll call him “Ben”– shared how his new hearing loss has caused some depression. This is Ben’s letter and my reply…

Dear Lipreading Mom,

What do you do about depression? I started losing my hearing about 4 years ago and it has gotten worse I can tell. I have hearing aids and I am coping (I teach so sometimes it’s difficult). But I find myself, especially in the mornings/night worrying, and I know there’s nothing I can do about it…but I become depressed thinking about losing more hearing. This is the first medical issue I’ve ever had and it has made me feel very vulnerable. Any suggestions? There are no hearing support groups anywhere near me. I’ve gotten so scared that I’m afraid to have my hearing retested. It’s impacting my happiness.

-Ben 

Dear Ben,

Thank you for your words. You have my sympathies and understanding with your situation. Depression is common among people with adult-onset hearing loss. Although my hearing loss was diagnosed 10 years ago, the big “D” has been another health issue I’ve experienced. While there may not be a local hearing loss support group where you live, I encourage you to visit an online hearing loss support group. One I’ve visited is Open Chat Night at www.openchatnight.com. Also, visit the Hearing Loss Association of America National Web site (www.hearingloss.org) for tips on coping with hearing loss and depression. Some things that may be helpful in coping with hearing loss-related depression:

  • Talk to your family doctor and/or audiologist about your depression. You may be referred to a counselor who specializes in coping with hearing loss depression and grief. I found that for many years, I grieved the hearing that I used to have. The counselor pointed me to a grief support group and discussed medical options should I choose them.
  •  Write down your thoughts about hearing loss. I’ve kept journals for years, and this writing allowed me to express my worries, fears and sadness in a tangible way. It was must better for me to write about these feelings than to suppress them.
  • Pursue the hobbies/interests you enjoy that don’t necessarily require “perfect” hearing. Although phone conversations are difficult for me, I enjoy meeting friends one-on-one for coffee. I also enjoy regular exercise and have found that it curbs some of the depression. Other ideas: Reading, crossword puzzles, bike riding, woodworking.
  • Realize that you are not alone with hearing loss. The more you accept the loss, the more likely you will be open to others about it. And the move I’ve shared about my hearing loss with others, the more people have opened up to me about their hearing concerns.

With time, you may discover how your hearing loss can be a way to encourage and connect with others in a similar circumstance. Your experiences and wisdom are and will be important.

Please keep me posted.

-Lipreading Mom

Do you have a comment or suggestion for Ben? Post it here, and I will make sure to forward it on.

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2 thoughts on “Depression and Hearing Loss

  1. Ben – I can understand the trials you are going through as I have walked the same path you are now on. My hearing loss was diagnosed 34 years ago and only recently did it become an issue. Two years ago I finally realized I needed hearing aids, from that moment I went through anger, depression and denial rather rapidly. It affected my home life and my work life until I realized that I was focusing on the wrong things. It is easy to remember what we used to hear, what we used to do, and how things used to be. These moments lead to depression, anxiety and if severe enough could require medical attention. The more difficult way to approach your hearing loss is to focus what you CAN do. Since you say this is the first medical issue you have ever had then I can assume you are physically fit and mobile, Lipreading Mom is right on the money with her advice of pursuing a hobby you enjoy that doesn’t require “perfect” hearing. Go for walks and concentrate on the sights of the world, you’ll be surprised how much you haven’t noticed. Your state you are a teacher (a sincere salute to you for choosing a noble vocation) speak with your administration on starting an after school support group for students and their families. Chances are there are students or their parents that have a hearing loss. The bottom line is don’t give up on yourself and don’t dwell on the past, there is a very enjoyable life waiting for all of us whether we are hearing impaired or not.

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