Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hearing Loss and Depression May Be Linked? You Don't Say!



According to new research, hearing loss is associated with depression among American adults, especially woman and those younger than 70. No! You mean if someone starts to lose their hearing they may become depressed? Who woulda thunk?

I can remember the first few months when my hearing loss went from still using the phone to no hearing whatsoever. Boy, was it stressful! My family hadn't quite make the connection, I couldn't read lips (still can't), I had a newborn baby (and two other young children as well) I couldn't hear, and I couldn't even communicate with my husband. It was horrible! To top it off, I have clinical depression already, so I was a mess.

Because I have depression, I already isolated myself, so when I became deaf I had to make sure to seek outside resources. I called an organization and asked if they had any ASL classes for deaf people who already know sign language, but want to work on their ASL grammar. I figured it would be hard to find, but, lo and behold, they had an upcoming class! I remember going to one (after I'd been going for a while) and just totally breaking down. My 3-year-old had been trying to communicate with me and I couldn't understand her. It was heartbreaking and everyone there understood.

I made it a point to start teaching all three kids ASL (now they're all almost fluent) and my husband and I practiced constantly. It was a very tough few months, but I was lucky to have the support. Imagine if you had none! All of a sudden you couldn't use the phone, hear your kids talk or babies cry, have small talk with people when you left the house, watch the TV, or any number of things. How would you handle it? (Just as a side, deaf people can do all of those things, but newly deafened people rarely know about how to go about it.)

To make new research even more absurd, it stated that the depression was most pronounced in ages 18 - 69 and mostly in women. 18 - 69?? That just about covers everyone, Seems like a big age group to me. I don't believe that it's more in woman other than 1. women tend to seek help more often than men, and 2. women, in general, have depression more than men.

If you are newly deafened, by all means get out there! Find a buddy and vent. But mainly, if you have a hearing loss, you need to go to an audiologist or otolaryngogist (otherwise known as an ENT) to be diagnosed properly.

You don't need to be fully deaf to grieve for the loss of your hearing. Losing it in any range can be devastating. Whether you lose it in increments or all at once, the loss can feel more than one can bear. Please know you're not alone. There are others like you out there. Depression isn't something to ignore. And, by all means, if the depression gets so bad you start to contemplate suicide, please go to an ER and tell them how you're feeling.

So, depression and hearing loss linked? Wow! There's a revelation. But don't minimize the pain. It can hurt like hell and it's not all on you. Heck, if you need a friend, leave a comment here and I'd be happy to chat with you. You're NOT alone.

4 comments:

  1. Michele,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I've been deaf nearly all of my life. This depression you speak of impacts not only those who've lost much of their hearing later on in life, but also those who've been deaf since early childhood. I had no deaf adults to look up to or to learn how to live life as a deaf individual. For most of my academic years, I was made to speak and "hear" using basic hearing aids. I always felt out of place in the hearing world, even though I could speak and "hear". Then at the age of 17, I had a freak accident at the beach down in California (I currently live in WA state) where the waves nearly crushed my head against the sandy floor. I lost what little hearing I had left on that day. So now for over 20 years, I've been profoundly deaf and do not enjoy the strained efforts of lip-reading. Lip-reading is SO unreliable and I prefer it when hearing people write down what they're saying. Now, I build commercial airplanes for a living, you know that huge airplanes that thousands of people fly on every day? Lol....I LOVE my job! I work in a male-dominated vocation, but oddly enough, I've found that being deaf in this male-dominated field is more of a challenge than being a woman. So many hearing people view deaf people as aliens with no feelings. Men, more than women, tend to look at me as if I'm invading from some other planet or even a far-away galaxy. Simply put, many of them don't know what to do with me. It takes a long time for individuals to get used to being around me. THIS has been contributing to my feelings of depression that come and go. I have aced my training and already proven that I work hard and work in a team very well. But still, I am being held away by a 10-yard stick. I have learned to be aggressive, assertive, loud, with somewhat of an attitude, to get people to pay attention. I grew up being submissive, meek, quiet, and ashamed. Since I started my career of building commercial airplanes, I have changed so much. I'm still changing and learning how to embrace my deafness. It's hard, but I'm doing it. Again, thank you for sharing your story!

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  2. This was a great article, thank you! I recently read another article about how hearing aids can improve mental health that I think others might enjoy: http://bit.ly/MentalHealthAudicus

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  3. Hearing aids isn't the cure-all that some might think it is. I've lived life both with and without hearing aids. When hearing people place so much emphasis on hearing aids, I have to wonder why? They wouldn't know what it's like. I prefer the opinion of other deaf people who either wear them or don't. Their experiences carry more weight in this matter.

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  4. Mental fitness is as vital to the body as physical fitness.Having good mental health permits us to be innovative,to utilize our mental abilities without bounds degree,benefit as much as possible from circumstances and fight stress.When you're not mentally fit,it can be hard to perform complex errands well.Rehearsing mental fitness day by day will help you accomplish and keep up a mentally healthy state.

    --Jessica Glenn.

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