The Emotional Impact of Hearing Loss
No-one who has not experienced the devastating effects of hearing loss can understand them fully. If your hearing has become severely impaired, psychological and emotional impacts are a natural consequence of your situation. Do not be ashamed to discuss this with a doctor or counselor, and make use of the support of family and friends.
Feelings of grief
It’s like losing an old friend – and it makes it more difficult for you to communicate with those around you. Simple pleasures like spending time with friends and listening to music become stressful and unpleasant. You feel very lost and alone. You withdraw from situations you would normally have participated in.
It doesn’t only affect your social life, your work life and career may also be impaired or even end because of communication difficulties. Although most of those close to us will understand the situation up to a point, they do not realize its profound effect on every aspect of living.
The grief process follows certain distinct phases, and a counselor can help you to move the process along.
- At first, you enter a phase of denial: ‘This isn’t really happening!’
- Then you become angry: ‘Why me?’
- Next, we begin to bargain: ‘What if we do this or that?’ Some people will secretly make a ‘deal’ with a higher power.
- We become depressed. There is no going back. Life will never be the same again.
- Acceptance is the final stage and the one we must strive for. Now we become open to enjoyment of life.
Deafness is linked to a number of psychological disorders as a result of its devastating and traumatic effect on the sufferer.
Feelings of depression and isolation are natural in those who lose their hearing. Unfortunately this can become a downward spiral into chronic depression. Finding a good hearing aid, becoming accustomed to it and attending counseling can help you to overcome this. In severe cases, medication may be prescribed. Visit your MD for a referral if you experience a combination of the following symptoms.
- You feel helpless: everything is just too much, and you feel like you can’t cope.
- You are no longer interested in things you used to enjoy, and ordinary tasks become ‘too much trouble’. You begin to neglect yourself.
- You don’t feel like eating or you comfort eat.
- You become impatient and angry easily.
- You have feelings of intense apathy. Why bother?
- You begin to hate yourself. You’re so ‘useless’, etc.
- You begin to behave recklessly: you drive your car too fast, or spend recklessly on your credit card. You just couldn’t be bothered with possible consequences.
Do not be ashamed. You probably have more cause for depression than most sufferers!
Panic attacks, social phobia and severe anxiety
The suddenly stressful nature of interaction with others can cause people to withdraw or become anxious to a greater or lesser degree. Since this can advance to a pathological degree, it is important to get help early on. Some people become so anxious and afraid that they refuse to leave their homes or even get out of bed.