Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013

Hearing Loss and Stress

Woman on snowy road deals with stress from hearing loss

The slow or sudden transformation that occurs with hearing loss—whether to an individual or to family or friends of someone with hearing loss, can take its toll on mood and vitality. It isn’t merely adjusting to a single deficit, but how that new reality impacts every day. It is a whole body, whole mind, whole life transition that can cause much stress and lead to depression.

People with hearing loss often find themselves struggling to keep up with the stresses of every day life in a hearing world. The slow depletion of coping skills, exhaustive concentration measures, and even one’s outlook on their place in the world can cause severe stress that leads to depression. Dealing with stress and the closely related depression involves a multipronged approach—nutritional, physical, medical, and mental.


“Nutritional neuroscience is an emerging discipline shedding light on the fact that nutritional factors are intertwined with human cognition, behavior, and emotions.” Understanding Nutrition Depression and Mental Illness

Stress and depression covertly impact eating habits, causing people to eat the very foods that will worsen stress and inflame depression. A study done in India and reported on in Understanding Nutrition Depression and Mental Illness shows deficient in certain nutrients like B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish and fish oil supplements), and magnesium caused people to have more incidents of depression. Replenishing these nutrients through both diet and supplements have been shown to dramatically help people dealing with stress and depression.

“When we take a close look at the diet of depressed people, an interesting observation is that their nutrition is far from adequate. They make poor food choices and selecting foods that might actually contribute to depression.” Understanding Nutrition Depression and Mental Illness

Though carbohydrates do elevate mood—which explains why people who are depressed seek the immediate effect of consuming sugar, these high sugar injections end with a huge dip. These dips require more sugary foods resulting in greater dips and worsening of stress and moods. Replacing white sugar and snacks high in empty calories, can provide the same mood elevating outcome that lasts longer without the dips. Fruit is a good example. A glass of orange juice mixed with a superfood like Amazing Grass provides a huge boost to your mood and energy levels, making it easier to take on the next tier of fighting stress and depression—working out.


“You can walk where things are predictable—or you can enter the wilderness. Without the wilderness, there can be neither reverence nor revelation.” Dr. Michael Harvey, No Longer Who I was But Yet Not Who I Will Be

Hearing loss sometimes leads people to withdraw from the world and activities they once enjoyed. In this way, hearing loss leads to greater stress and depression. Overcoming this tendency to withdraw by seeking out activity can be helpful to lessen isolation and aid in dealing with stress and depression.

The jury is still out on whether exercise itself and the release of endorphins is what lifts depression, or if it is the proactive nature of doing something, getting outside, and the resulting higher self-esteem that translate into less depression. Maybe it’s all of the above. The point is that stress and depression tend to hold people in place, mentally and physically, so choosing to surge past that inertia with a burst of exercise can and does help many people.


"Any journey requires navigational tools, like a compass, to make sure you don’t get lost." Dr. Michael Harvey, on hearing loss as compared to a hero's journey.

Many studies find that people with depression, like people with hearing loss, tend to shy away from certain treatments. For hearing loss that means not using hearing aids—despite the many benefits. For depression, even that related to the stress of hearing loss, it means people refuse to take proven medications that may help. Many people fear side effects, having to go through a long series of finding the right medication, or becoming dependent on medications. The truth is that most people who go on antidepressants have positive interactions with the medication and can safely rely on them for a leg up helping expedite changes in mood alongside diet and exercise.


"The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you're in control of your life. If you don't, life controls you." Tony Robbins, Life Coach

You’ve probably heard that having a positive attitude is half the battle, but when you are dealing with adapting to hearing loss stresses, how can staying positive help? The truth is it doesn’t help in the way some people might think—creating a false positivity that buoys you and banishes depression. It helps in more simplistic and basic ways. Being positive helps when facing the everyday challenges—going to a grocery store, calling Verizon to complain about your bill, picking up the phone to speak with a dear, yet mildly pessimistic friend. Staying positive will not erase depression, but it will help you to navigate more easily through your life as you deal with stress and depression.

The most important thing to note when dealing with hearing loss, stress, and depression is to share the way you are feeling with trusted family or friends, but if that's not possible visit a trusted website, chat with those who have similar problems, or reach out to a support group. If you find that your depression and stress is due to untreated hearing loss, get help. Research shows that people who treat their hearing loss are happier and more active than those who do not. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

Resources and Links to Check Out:


T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M.R. Asha, B.N. Ramesh, K.S. Jagannatha Rao Understanding Nutrition Depression and Mental Illness taken on March 17th from, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337

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