Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss
It is worth repeating: untreated hearing
loss comprises the vast majority of the
estimated 28,000,000 Americans with hearing
loss: more than 22,000,000 Americans have
not taken action to help themselves.
A common condition
found among co-dependent relationships
is depression. More than 18,000,000 people
age 18 and older have a diagnosable depressive
disorder in the U.S.4 The disease burden
of mental illness on health and productivity
in the U.S. is more than the disease burden
caused by all cancers.5 The average age
of onset is the mid-20s, it affects twice
as many women as men, and by the year
2020, it is projected that mental illness
will increase its present burden on society
by 50 percent.6 Typically, depression
associated with hearing loss happens gradually
as the hearing loss becomes more debilitating.
Loss and Depression are Corroborated
The presence of hearing loss in and of
itself may be a contributor to depression.
A study by Bridges and Bentler7 revealed
that depression was significantly more
prevalent among those with hearing loss.
In a six-year longitudinal study by Wallhagen
and his team8 which comprised 356 hard-of-hearing
men and women age 65 and older, there
was more than a three-fold likelihood
of depression at the six-year follow-up
among the hard-of-hearing participants.
Your loved one
sits at the restaurant table smiling at
a friend talking to the group. You can
tell on his face that he’s being
polite as he struggles to understand each
word. Your heart goes out to him, but
there’s really not much you can
do. It’s not a situation where you
can interpret for him. Then he pops in
with a statement that seems to come from
left field. It makes no sense to anyone.
A couple people even laugh, but he intended
no humor in it. He suddenly realizes what
he’s done. You want to crawl under
the table with him in embarrassment.
If your loved one suffers
the consequences of hearing loss because
he refuses assessment or treatment and
he’s already told you he hates the
idea of wearing hearing aids, then this
little story represents only a fraction
of the situations both you and your loved
Anxiety is very commonly
found among hard-of-hearing people. The
experience of not hearing is associated
with not feeling safe in conversations,
misinterpreting words, responding inappropriately
and feeling left out among people you
love. These negative events can lead to
frustrations, humiliations and embarrassments
as well as anxiety. For some, it can lead
to isolation that ends in despair. . .