Hearing Loss and Mental Health

There is no doubt that hearing loss has put a significant impact on mental health. Those who suffer from loss of hearing usually experience issues in communicating, which can lead to a loss of close relationships and shame.  Sadly, there are many effects with the loss of hearing that match the symptoms of depression. Depression symptoms persist amongst those with hearing loss regardless of their use of hearing aids. The moderate effects of hearing loss on mental health and subjective well-being have been shown to have a correlation.

Mental health departments should be taking culture into account when they are handling people who suffer from loss of hearing as they are required to develop services that are sensitive to the needs of the deaf community. The need for mental health services for the deaf community is very abundant as public health systems have done a very poor job of responding to this specific populations needs. Unfortunately, having a mental illness can be a much greater barrier to successful functioning in society than being deaf is, especially for people who have been without hearing since birth, or from a young age and have that independence.

The National Institute of mental health has investigated the effectiveness of two psychotherapies which include interpersonal psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy for the treatment of outpatients with depressive disorder. It was recognized that patients in all treatments showed a substantial reduction in depressive symptoms and progress in functioning over the course of treatment. With that being said, the need for action on mental health within the correlation of hearing loss is vital in todays day and age, preferably in the earlier stages of hearing loss. In a perfect world, it would be extremely beneficial to have enough providers who specialize in both mental health and deafness to understand and be able to treat this correlation even more.

Up until recently, the mental health systems have thought that techniques, services, and interventions that work for people in the general population are equally effective for people who are deaf. The public mental health systems have done a weak job of reacting to the population and cultural needs of the deaf community. The demand for mental health services for the deaf community could not be more clear that it needs more time and assistance allocated to it, as people who are deaf develop services that are susceptible to the needs, desires, and aspirations that specialize in the deaf community. It would be much more beneficial if the national institute of mental health would involve individuals who are actually deaf within every step of the planning and development, that way, the department could deliver more of a high-quality mental health service to support this population of people.

How Hearing Loss Can Impact Mental Health:

As stated, hearing loss has been linked with depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, and even suicide. The effects on mental health is not an easy situation to handle. When people think of the relationship between hearing loss and mental health, many people think automatically of older people when it comes to depression and loss of hearing, but it turns out that they could not be more wrong. Not only is it crucial to take care of our older generation, but we need to take note and notice the stigmatism around mental health in children with severe hearing impairment. Children are at great risk of the development of emotional/behavioural problems or disorders when they suffer from a loss of hearing. It is extremely important that parents educate themselves and develop the skills that will promote good mental health in kids, and notice the signs of depression to try and help any child from a young age with their mental health and hearing loss.

Important Actions Which Promote Positive Mental Health in Children:

  • Social connections
  • Promote high self-esteem and confidence
  • Allowing your child to have the feeling of having options
  • Positive nurturing and attachment
  • Knowledge of parenting and of child/youth development

Although there is a link between mental health and hearing loss, it does not necessarily have to be portrayed that way. It is best to try and resolve the problem as soon as possible and try to take care of your health by having a hearing test conducted almost immediately if any symptoms arise. There is no question about it that mental health illnesses combined with hearing loss pose very serious risks to people, but it has been proven that social support has been found to be much more of a positive impact when it comes to mental health illnesses. Mental health problems have been associated to the loss of hearing and sadly, the association between functional hearing and depression often go unrecognized by many health care professionals, which is problematic as untreated hearing loss can cause serious issues in the future. There is very powerful evidence that depression affects both mind and body, and through many techniques of brain imaging, research has discovered that depression can alter brain chemistry. The public mental health systems have done a weak job of reacting to the population and cultural needs for the deaf community. The demand for mental health services for the deaf community could not be more clear that it needs more time and assistance allocated to it, as people who are deaf develop services that are susceptible to the needs, desires and aspirations of the deaf community. It is vital in todays world that we have enough providers who specialize in both mental health and deafness to better understand the correlation on an even deeper level.