Misophonia: When Random Noises And Sounds Bother You | Signs, Triggers & Treatment
It is not unusual to get irritated by the constant honking when you’re stuck in traffic nor it is unusual to feel frustrated over the constant dripping of the water or the loud chewing of the person sitting next to you.
However, when these everyday noises and sounds begin to bother you more than necessary, it is a concern.
In this article, we’ll explore what is misophonia, its signs, the triggers, what causes misophonia, how it affects our overall wellness, and how you can cope with the “hatred of sound”.
Yes, you read it right. The word misophonia means ‘hatred of sound’, quite literally.
So, what does misophonia mean, exactly?
What Is Misophonia?
Misophonia is a condition wherein a certain sound or noise may trigger a negative reaction such as anger, aggression, anxiety, panic, or other reactions. Misophonia is also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome.
People who struggle with this condition react in an extremely emotional way and a sound may also trigger one’s fight-or-flight reaction resulting in either annoyance or lashing out in aggression.
One of the most misunderstood conditions, misophonia while not officially recognized as a disorder in the DSM-5, is now being acknowledged as something that should be taken seriously.
The sounds and noise that people with misophonia are bothered with are sounds that normally other people don’t register or pay much attention to. A person’s reaction to such sounds is so intense that it may interfere with their daily functioning.
Symptoms & Signs Of Misophonia
As I mentioned, misophonia is not as of yet officially recognized as a disorder in the DSM-5, however, there are certain signs and symptoms that you should know about:
Certain emotional reactions to certain sounds and noises can be:
Sometimes, the sound may also trigger a person’s fight or flight response. As a part of the stress response, a person may experience:
- Increase in adrenaline and norepinephrine
- Increased heart rate
- Increased breathing rate
- Tightening of muscles
- Increase in alertness
- Increase in blood pressure
- Increase in body temperature
Misophonia is a chronic condition and a person with misophonia may often experience panic, anger, anxiety, and annoyance. To avoid such emotional reactions, people with this condition often go ways to avoid being in situations that may trigger their reactions.
Some may also prefer isolating themselves or employ different coping methods to cope with their condition.
What Causes Misophonia?
Misophonia is a condition that still requires a lot of research and while there is no concrete evidence of what causes misophonia, there are certain reasons and factors that may contribute to it:
Other Mental Health Disorders: It is believed that some other mental health disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette syndrome, or any anxiety disorders may contribute to misophonia.
Tinnitus: Misophonia can be a symptom of Tinnitus, a condition wherein people hear noises such as a ringing sound, often something no one else near them can hear.
Genes: In some research, it was found that misophonia can be genetic and may run in families.
Misophonia triggers are more often than not every day noises and sounds. Some of the most common misophonia triggers can be:
- Loud breathing
- Loud chewing
- Pen or pencil clicking
- Spoons scraping
- Fingernails clipping or tapping
- Dogs barking
- Gulping or slurping
- Wheezing or whistling
- Throat clearing
- Clock ticking
- Birds chirping
Others with misophonia might also have visual triggers such as:
- Foot wagging
- Legs shaking
- Nose rubbing
- Teeth smacking
- Hair twirling
While on occasion, the above sounds, noises, and visuals may irritate and annoy all of us at some point, people who struggle with misophonia may react more emotionally and extremely.
If the above sounds, noises, or visuals trigger your anxiety or anger, it is suggested you immediately consult a professional for an official diagnosis.
Treatment Options Available For Misophonia
There are various treatment options available for treating misophonia. Some of them are:
1. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
With the help of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, misophonia can be treated. In Tinnitus, a person hears a constant ringing in their ears. With TRT, people with misophonia can learn to tolerate the noise triggering their reaction so much so that they can deal with the discomfort without much interference.
CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy and DBT or dialectical behavior therapy can also be used to treat misophonia. With CBT, people can learn effective coping skills to help manage their reactions and change their negative thinking patterns to positive ones.
With DBT, a person can learn to manage their emotional reaction with techniques such as mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and other activities.
3. Relaxation Techniques
People with misophonia may also benefit from practicing relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) or breathing exercises. Such exercises can help a person deliberately relax and reduce the tightening of the muscles.
Other therapies such as hypnotherapy, biofeedback, etc. can also be used to treat misophonia. If you feel you’ll benefit from these therapies, please consult a professional or specialist to help in the treatment.
How To Cope With Misophonia?
There are other coping strategies that you can use to help manage the symptoms and triggers of misophonia.
You can try:
- Wearing earplugs where you fear your reaction will be triggered
- Using white noise devices to block triggering noises
- Wearing earplugs in case you feel overwhelmed with noises
- Practicing healthy stress management techniques
Is It Sound Sensitivity Or Something Else?
While there are no direct links to autism and misophonia, there might be some cases where children with autism may find it difficult to adjust to sensory stimulation and loud sounds.
If you’re someone who feels like certain noises are bothering you, how do you know that it is an indicator of sound sensitivity or misophonia?
If it’s misophonia, you’re more likely to feel panic, anger, and later guilt for not being able to control the reaction. Do not brush off your sound sensitivity as anything; it is always better to get a diagnosis before determining the real issue.
It can be frustrating to live with misophonia but there is help available if you need so. I hope this article helped you understand what misophonia is, its causes, signs, triggers, and how to cope with misophonia.
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