You may have heard or read about something called 'deaf anxiety'. Some people with hearing loss may experience feelings of anxiety due to their inability to hear clearly. In general, anxiety is a complex topic where each person who struggles with it reacts differently. Deaf anxiety can occur as a result of:
These things can happen on a regular basis and require a lot of effort.
Mental Health in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community
Over 11% of people with hearing problems have moderate to severe depression, and just over 19% experience mild symptoms of depression.
People with hearing loss are two times more likely than people with normal hearing to have mental health issues (anxiety and depression).
According to The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, one research study showed that there were significantly more symptoms of anxiety and depression among the deaf participants than among the hearing participants.
In some instances, the term ‘deaf gain’ has been viewed as something positive.
Deaf Anxiety Triggers
It’s important to note that everyone’s experience with anxiety is different, whether you have difficulty with hearing or not.
Here are some triggers that you might identify with:
It will take time, but practicing and learning how to manage these triggers is important in order to ease your worries and participate in life.
Managing Deaf Anxiety
Everyone has their own way of handling their anxiety. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Put headphones on
If you’re wearing headphones, there’s a lower chance of strangers who are unaware of your hearing problems trying and communicate with you. This way, if you are doing something mundane like shopping at the grocery store, you don’t need to be completely alert or forced to listen all of the time.
This should only be utilized when it’s necessary, otherwise, you’d be socially isolating yourself which can lead to depression.
2. Practice breathing exercises
Deeply inhaling, and exhaling helps slow down your heart rate. It’s great to help you mentally prepare when you are going to interact with someone that you don’t know.
3. Make an appropriate work environment for yourself
If possible, being able to create your own work environment can be very beneficial to managing your anxiety.
Ask your employer to make reasonable accommodations that will help to make you more productive.
4. Create an appropriate environment in your home
Make your home a sanctuary for relaxation and rest.
You don’t need any fancy electronics. Make sure you surround yourself with things that you love. That could be good food, comfortable furniture, and a clean space.
5. Read a book
Reading something new can give you more insight into something that you didn’t know much - or anything - about, or allow you to escape from reality for a little while.
You can find books on how to manage stress, improve communication, connect with others, and build the life that you want.
A good book can put you at peace with your life.
6. Practice mindfulness
Everyone has moments when they’re just going through their day, and they don’t stop to think about what they are actually doing or thinking about how they feel. You might not even be aware of your own abilities.
Instead of being stuck in the past, or worrying about the future, reduce your anxiety by simply being present.
This blog has mentioned exercise before. It’s not only good for the body, but it’s also good for the mind. It helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Simply going out for a walk or breathing in fresh air can help reduce anxiety.
8. Social events: Avoid going to the event altogether or leaving the event early
It may not be ideal, but you do have this option.
If you’re not in the mood or feel like you can’t handle a noisy environment for a party, work event, or socializing, it can be avoided.
You may try to attend for as long as you can, but if you need to you can leave early. The listening fatigue that you may feel can ruin your time, so for your own mental health, it’s okay to avoid some social events if you’re really not in the mood. But remember, don’t go overboard. This can lead to social isolation and depression.
9. Be your own advocate.
No one is going to advocate for you, if you don't advocate for yourself.
Recognizing your limits can be difficult to accept.
If something is not accommodating to your hearing needs, speak up and let your requirements be known.
You may not be able to control things in life, like your hearing loss or other people’s reactions to you, but you can control other aspects. Focus your energy on that.
Have your own support system. This can help you manage your anxiety.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, please get in touch with us at Pure Sound Hearing to schedule a free hearing test and consultation.