Hearing loss is a common concern that interferes with an individual's mental health and overall quality of life. The elderly population is more susceptible to developing hearing impairment. According to the National Institute on Aging estimates, about one-third of people between 65 and 74 years old are affected by this condition.

Age-related hearing loss mainly occurs due to pathological changes in the inner ear, where the specialized hearing cells are located. Hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe, and profound based on its severity.

Hearing impairment can lead to different social and cognitive challenges among affected individuals. Patients face difficulties during communication, especially in crowded rooms. As a result, they avoid social gatherings. Hearing loss is associated with social isolation, poor self-esteem, unhappiness, and aggression. People with hearing impairment are more vulnerable to various mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis. It also increases the likelihood of cognitive impairment, including dementia.


Patients with hearing loss can experience higher levels of anxiety. They are constantly worried and tense about their hearing health and how fast it declines. The symptoms of anxiety increase during conversations as patients are concerned about misunderstanding others.


Loneliness and isolation as a result of hearing loss can significantly contribute to developing depression symptoms. Patients suffer from continuous low mood, lack of motivation, helplessness, and low self-esteem. These symptoms worsen when they realize they can no longer listen to certain sounds, such as alarm clocks, phone ringing, and microwave beeps. Patients become less autonomous, which decreases their self-esteem. It might also increase the risk of suicidal thoughts.  


Psychosis is another problem that can be linked to hearing loss. Patients complain of delusions and hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations such as ringing or voices are more common, possibly due to impaired perceptions of sounds in the brain.

Cognitive decline and dementia

Recent studies suggest that hearing loss can accelerate cognitive impairment and increase the chances of dementia. Cognitive decline can present with difficulty thinking and concentrating.


Age-related hearing loss can be accompanied by other symptoms, including tinnitus. Tinnitus is a perception of sounds in the ears without any external source. Patients describe it as ringing, buzzing, or whistling in the ears. It can lead to severe distress and drastically worsen the effects of hearing loss on mental health. It increases the risk of anxiety, depression, and irritability. Tinnitus can negatively affect the quality of sleep, leading to insomnia. In severe cases, it might also be linked to suicide attempts.

What to do next?

Patients experiencing hearing loss are advised to make an appointment with an audiologist. Management plan depends on the type and degree of hearing loss. Hearing aids are the most common option, as they can significantly reduce the risk of mental health problems due to hearing impairment. In some cases, patients will be prescribed antidepressants, antianxiety, and sleep medications.  








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