Does Hearing Loss cause Anxiety? Temma Ehrenfeld in Health Hearing article explores the connection.
If you’ve just been diagnosed with hearing loss—or your hearing has gotten worse—you may be feeling anxious.
Anxiety is a persistent heightened state of alert. It’s a normal reaction to stressful situations, but for some people it spirals out of control and becomes a disorder in and of itself. Often, that means they can’t stop thinking “what if?”
Hearing loss can trigger or feed into anxious thinking or other symptoms, though the links haven’t been thoroughly studied. Sometimes the anxiety and rumination isn’t strictly focused on hearing, but seeps out like a stain on a dress.
When you have hearing loss, you may worry about a lot of things: What if I don’t hear something important? What if I misunderstand someone and embarrass myself? What if my hearing aid batteries run out? What if I get passed up for a promotion because of my hearing loss? What if my tinnitus gets worse? And so on.
Physical signs of anxiety
Anxiety can trigger physical symptoms: nausea, dizziness, muscle aches, insomnia and trouble concentrating, among others. You may feel a sense of dread or doom, as if you’re standing on the edge of windy cliff.
If these thoughts and physical sensations are becoming persistent, intrusive and affecting your quality of life, it may be time to seek professional help. This may require treating both your hearing loss and your anxiety. How this plays out day-to-day varies by your unique circumstances, however.
Do I have social anxiety or am I just frustrated by not hearing?
Age-related hearing loss, called presbycusis, typically sneaks up on you over time. You may not even notice that you’re giving up on noisy social occasions because of your hearing loss. Instead, you accept that you “just don’t like parties.”
Loneliness can creep up on you as well, and contribute to medical problems and yes, anxiety.
People with social anxiety are afraid of any situation in which they might be negatively judged, from conversations with superiors on the job to dates, small-talk and parties.
Hearing loss does create situations that can irritate other people. When you can’t hear well, you may miss clues that let you know when someone is about to talk or hasn’t yet finished, and end up interrupting. You might pretend to hear, or guess, or think you heard someone—and reply inappropriately. You didn’t hear the joke—and you’re the only one who didn’t laugh. So hearing loss can make you feel left out or socially unskilled.
If you enjoy being around people, your social anxiety is mild. For example, Dr. Blazer notes that some people go to religious services, but come in late and leave early so they don’t have to chit-chat. Their problems might be solved by hearing aids. If you have extreme social anxiety, simply sitting with people would make you anxious.
People diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may be flooded with worry and struggle with a gamut of physical symptoms for days before a date or job interview.
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We can help you.
Susan E. Terry, Au.D., F-AAA, F-NAP
Doctor of Audiology
P.S. We are here to help if you have any questions about your hearing, feel free to give us a call at 727-323-2471