When Hearing Loss Affects You Psychologically

For some, not hearing well is only the beginning of their problems. If you suffer from hearing loss you might have noticed some unexpected side effects such as uncertainty, anger, frustration, depression, embarrassment, and anxiety. Hearing loss can bring on problems with interpersonal relationships. Some with hearing loss have developed phobias and experienced panic attacks.

In living with hearing loss, I’ve experienced many psychological symptoms. I’ve certainly felt frustrated at my inability to hear and embarrassed when I answer someone inappropriately. I try to keep my anger in check but I admit that I’ve yelled or thrown things and even cried a little. I’ve had panic attacks on and off for the last few years. There were periods of time when the panic attacks were frequent, and to function, I had to take medication. I was loathe to talk about this and saw myself as weakling, someone unable to deal with my disability.

Luckily my doctor, audiologist, and husband were a little more thoughtful about my problems. They helped me realize that I was blaming myself and not focusing on what was important, adjusting to life with a hearing problem. Fixing my hearing issues didn’t happen overnight. I went to see a speech therapist and learned the tricks of hearing in noise. I tried to make friends with people who are understanding about hearing issues. I wear the best hearing aids I can afford and use assistive devices. Taking control of my hearing issues put my mind at ease.

I love the holidays, the merriment, the parties and socializing with family and friends. At times I find myself exhausted. Just this week, I was at a very noisy party, trying to make sense of something a woman was telling me. Instead of feeling frustrated and angry, I tried to listen carefully, to read her lips, and put what I did hear in context. My methods worked, though I had to ask her to repeat a few times. She did so graciously, understanding my predicament.

It isn’t easy dealing with hearing loss. When additional psychological factors creep in, you open yourself to the perfect storm of emotions. Try to take a big breath and see problems with hearing for what they are, little mountains, that can be traversed with some extra help from those who love you most.