Facing or experiencing the symptoms of hearing loss, tinnitus, ringing in the ears, wearing hearing aids or even being hard of hearing – whichever term best describes you – has probably also been accompanied by symptoms of depression at some point.
Depression can make you feel low in mood, lack energy or enjoyment in your regular activities, create a change in appetite, leave you feeling tearful or have negative thoughts about harming yourself. It can come on gradually or hit you all at once and can be very difficult to deal with.
Whether it’s age related hearing loss or you’re newly diagnosed or if you’ve had a hearing condition since birth, it’s perfectly understandable that you may struggle with depression from time to time, in fact, it’s estimated at least 1 in 4 adults will experience depression throughout their life.
The good news is that you absolutely can overcome depression, with time and the right support. It seems impossible when you are having a terrible day, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel even if you can’t quite see it yet. So, if you’re struggling, here are some of our top tips to help:
You’re Not Alone
If you are feeling depressed, especially due to a condition such as hearing loss or tinnitus, it’s easy to feel isolated. While you may feel that others around you don’t understand, what you have to remember is that you are far from alone in dealing with your condition.
Plus, in reality, everyone is fighting their own battles in life, it just happens to be different ones. We might look at others and feel down because they can hear normally – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have crippling arthritis or even cancer. Nobody is immune to ill health altogether! So, it starts by accepting everyone has their own challenges, and that there is no such thing as “perfect”.
In addition, social media can ironically make us feel even more isolated, especially when people only show their best bits. In reality, what you are seeing is tiny edited fragments of someone’s life. They have struggles just like you and me, but all we see if happy smiling faces and their achievements. It’s not an accurate representation of their everyday lives, so don’t compare yourself to something that doesn’t even exist.
When we feel low, we often keep it to ourselves. We don’t want to burden others or talk about our problems, right? Well, the trouble is the more we don’t speak about what is bothering us, the easier it is for difficult issues to weigh us down.
In recent years there’s been a big push on mental health and rightly so. What you have to understand here, is that it’s perfectly normal to have periods in our lives when we don’t feel so great. There’s also no need to suffer in silence, and in fact by not talking about it, that only leaves one voice in your head to give you negative thoughts, rather than another human who can help rationalize your thoughts and help you find a way through what you’re experiencing.
Whether you confide in friends or family, your doctor or even support groups about your hearing loss or tinnitus – there is always someone who is willing to care and listen. Talking therapy, in particular, can be really helpful. No, it’s not going to change the situation – but it will give you the coping strategies you need to move forward. That way, you will be able to deal with your condition in a much more proactive way, so that you can live life to the full.
When we are feeling down, exercise is the last thing on our minds. We just want to crawl into bed and not leave the house. But, if it’s at all possible you can get dressed and head to the gym or even go for a brisk walk – it can really do your mental health a world of good.
That’s because when we exercise, this produces endorphins which are responsible for boosting our mood, and can even reduce pain receptors in the brain. Exercise can also improve self-esteem and confidence, which you might be struggling with if you suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus.
Gyms might seem like intimidating places, but in reality, they are great places to get motivated and work through depression in a constructive way. If you are nervous, why not hire a trainer and explain your fears? People with a wide range of medical issues still work out, so the gym is a lot more accepting than you think. You could even attend a class and make new friends!
The bottom line is exercising regularly is a great way to boost both our physical and mental health, plus it gives you goals to focus on. Even a small workout can create a big shift in our mood, so it’s really worth at least giving the exercise a try.
Wearing the right hearing aids
It is always best to consult an audiologist when it comes to your hearing problem. When purchasing hearing aids there are two types of hearing aid domes you are presented with. If you are already wearing hearing devices, it is still suggested that you make a follow up whenever you think you need more help – especially when it comes to making sure that you take care of your hearing aids, for example. There are also some accessories that can help lighten the load of taking care of your hearing aids. Hearing aid wax guards are a great example.
Let’s just make sure that your hearing aids won’t be adding to your depression.
In life, we all go through peaks and troughs. If you are hard of hearing, have tinnitus or any other condition of the ear, it’s understandable that this can affect your mood from time to time.
However, what you need to remember is that whatever you are struggling with, you are not alone. In fact, there are millions of people probably dealing with the exact same problem as you read this. There is help out there, and plenty more people who care about you then you’ll ever realize.
If you are feeling depressed, it’s important you reach out and confide in those around you. Whether you speak to friends, family, a support group, doctor or even confide in a therapist – you don’t have to do this alone. Ask your audiologist for help, especially if you feel uncomfortable with your new hearing devices.
Life can seem bleak and hopeless when you are depressed, but what you have to remember is that it’s just a particular state you are in at that moment. There is light at the end of the tunnel, you just can’t see it yet, but it’s closer than you think.
Overcoming depression is about taking small steps each day until you are able to banish it to the curb completely. You will get through it, and go on to be able to live a happy and enjoyable life. You’ve got this!