Imagine that one day, you wake up, make yourself a hearty breakfast of pancakes with syrup and fruit, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and sit down to partake in this feast. You take your first bite of food and can't taste the sweetness of the syrup. You sip your coffee or tea and can't taste the pleasantness of it. Panicked, you rifle through your cupboards and try to taste everything you can find: honey, tuna, sugar, baking chocolate, anchovies (hey, you never know), and salt. Nothing. No sour, salty, sweet, bitter, or savory tastes. You call your doctor and request an appointment that day. There's no way you can get through the day without one of your five basic senses. The kicker is that you've known for a while that you were losing your sense of taste, but you thought it would resolve itself, and ignoring it was easier.
At the appointment, your doctor tells you that your loss of taste is due to aging, and it's a permanent issue that you'll have to learn to cope with. You're devastated. You feel like you've lost a friend. You spend the next few weeks eating less and less, feeling angry over little things, and sleeping more each night to forget it.
We all know that the longer an issue goes without being fixed, the worse it becomes. The person (or people) involved with the issue also experience a myriad of feelings that can get worse as the issue goes on without attention. Millions of Americans experience depressive symptoms resulting from a progressive loss of one of their five senses, and hearing loss, whether sudden or gradual, has a far-reaching emotional impact on those affected by it. Multiple studies have been conducted in the past several years that have found a distinct link between hearing loss and depression. An individual with untreated hearing loss may feel excluded from social activities, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loss, further exacerbating depressive symptoms. How long has your friend or loved one been experiencing depression due to hearing loss? Have you been experiencing depression due to hearing loss? Recognizing the signs early will help you better approach the issue with a positive and confident attitude.
The following are some of the signs of depression that you should look out for:
-sleeping too much
-unable to sleep (insomnia)
-little desire to be active
-angry outbursts over small matters
-not eating much food
-distractions, such as television and the computer, become a consuming part of everyday life
-unable to remember things
If you're approaching a friend or loved one, provide the most support you can; explain your concern in a positive way and offer to come with him/her for a hearing test. The hearing healthcare professional can discuss the results of the test and recommend solutions specifically for the individual. In the long run, seeking a solution will not only help someone hear better, but make him/her feel happier and more confident in social situations and life in general.
Find a hearing healthcare professional in your area here.
Last Updated: January 13, 2014