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Overcoming the Emotional Toll of Hearing Loss

Be Alert to Signs of Depression

Sometimes the sadness of dealing with hearing loss can turn into depression. Studies suggest that mothers may be at higher risk of depression than fathers when a child has hearing loss. Be aware of the symptoms of depression, including:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of pleasure
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

If you think you or a loved one is experiencing depression, talk to your doctor.

Learn Everything You Can About Hearing Loss

Living with hearing impairment can be overwhelming, in part because there's so much to learn. If you or your child has been diagnosed with hearing loss, be sure to explore:

  • Communication options for your type of hearing loss
  • Treatment options such as hearing aids or cochlear implants
  • Educational options based on the severity of your hearing loss
  • Hard of hearing (HOH) and hearing loss networks in your area
  • Ongoing hearing tests and follow-up

"You shouldn't expect to understand everything all at once," Oyler says. "There's a steep learning curve when it comes to hearing loss." If you have questions, ask your audiologist or doctor. Find other reliable sources of information in books and online.

Celebrate Your Triumphs Over Hearing Loss

Because living with hearing loss isn't easy, it's important to celebrate your successes, even small ones. For instance, parents of children with profound hearing impairment sometimes find it useful to keep a journal, so they can mark progress as children learn to speak or sign or adjust to treatments like cochlear implants. "It's easy to get discouraged," Oyler says. "A journal can help give you a realistic sense of how far you've come."

Don't Go Untreated

It may take a little while to find the right treatment. Often people need time to adjust to treatments like hearing aids or cochlear implants. But sticking with it and finding the best solution for your hearing loss is important for your mental and physical well-being. Studies show that untreated hearing loss can lead to depression and anxiety, among other psychological disorders. For older people, hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk of age-related dementia. The better you can communicate, the more engaged you will be, both mentally and socially.

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Reviewed on January 30, 2014

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