The sounds we experience everyday produce emotional reactions. If you wake to the sound of a babbling brook, or when your favorite song comes on the radio it can bring joy. However if we are awoken to the jarring sound of construction or a sports game you’re your window, this can induce stress.
What we experience with our five senses can enhance or detract from our mood. For instance, smells are processed with the limbic part of your brain also responsible for processing memories. Certain smells can bring back happy memories like they were yesterday, enhancing our overall mood. Similarly the sounds in our life play an important role in our general well being and mood.
The important role of dopamine
Dopamine is a hormone associated with happiness, creating serotonin, which regulates our mood. When you experience something you like, dopamine is triggered, increasing serotonin and oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a hormone that reduces pain perception and increases emotional connection. In many parts of your brain, dopamine appears as a neurotransmitter, released by the hypothalamus and used as a hormone by the body. Besides mood, dopamine contributes to the systems of the brain, such as the part responsible for sleep, behavior, motivation, reward as well as cognitive processing. Not only does Dopamine bring us joy but regulates the heart, circulation and metabolism.
Dopamine and hearing
While our ears are responsible for picking up sound, these sounds are processed by the brain’s auditory center. When any part of the auditory nerve is damaged, depending on the degree, our brain receives less audio information. When we cannot hear the sounds we love we are deprived of the dopamine we could potentially receive. When we struggle to communicate with the people in our life that bring us joy, then our mood can be severely compromised. A Canadian study from McGill University found that low dopamine levels were directly connected to fatigue, mood swings, and lack of motivation.
Your favorite music will incite joy and can even lead you to dance, which in turn creates adrenaline. Numerous studies illuminate the beneficial effects of music on our mental health. The McGill University monitored “the brains of eight 19-24-year olds as they listened to music they selected” and found that “dopamine levels increased six to nine percent.” Researchers confirm over and over that the sounds we love and links to happy memories significantly raise our dopamine levels and increase mood.
Untreated hearing loss and your mood
When hearing loss progresses it becomes more and more difficult to access the joy you receive form the people you love, from nature and music. When you are deprived of sounds due to hearing loss, research has found psychological effects include higher instances of anger, low confidence, anxiety, and depression in people of all ages.
If you have hearing loss this not only affects you but everyone who cares for you. When you struggle to access joy, it is hard to connect to the people in your life creating isolation. A study from the University of Gothenburg explored the effect of hearing loss on a research group of 400 people between 80-98 years and found that the majority of participants became less outgoing, suffered from low self esteem and depression.
Stay positive and address your hearing loss
While there is currently no way to reverse hearing loss, it can be treated in most cases by using hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify the sounds around you sending the sounds and tones you struggle with to your inner ear, to be processed by the auditory nerve.
People who use hearing aids can restore the ability to converse with the people in their life who bring them joy. They can rebuild self-esteem and a sense of independence. There are features on most modern hearing aids, which can be fine tuned to hear music, the sounds of nature and more.
Find out what hearing aids can do for you. If you suspect you have a hearing loss that is affecting your mood and quality of life, act today! Contact us today! We can test your hearing and help you find the best solution for your hearing needs.