Misophonia: What It Is And How It Can Be Treated

Annoying sounds such as clicking a pen or eating can make people irritated, but for sufferers of misophonia, it’s a different story. This condition, also known as selective sound sensibility syndrome in which specific sounds provoke an extreme and emotional reaction, is often poorly understood, under-researched, and still not recognized as a distinct psychiatric disorder. People with misophonia feel disgusted and even rage when exposed to certain noises like tapping, lip-smacking, breathing, chewing, etc.

Misophonia can cause great distress in those dealing with it. If you want to know more about this condition look below to find common triggers, symptoms, and whether it can be treated.

What is misophonia?

The name misophonia derives from the Greek word for “hatred of sound”. It involves extreme sensitivity to certain sounds like chewing, scratching, sniffling, and many more. For people who live with this condition, these noises are more than just bothersome – they’re downright unbearable. Some triggering sounds can cause so much distress that people begin to avoid certain situations and people as a result.

People with misophonia can experience a range of emotional reactions from annoyance to a fight-or-flight response that involves panic, anxiety, and sometimes rage in response to certain sounds. For example, if eating sounds trigger a certain reaction, people might start isolating themselves by eating all alone and avoiding restaurants, cafes, and other public places. For people dealing with misophonia, emotional reactions to triggers may seem impossible to control and often involve anger directed at the person who’s making those noises.

Angry guy

Can misophonia be treated?

People with misophonia have to learn to manage it since it affects their daily life. Treatments can often involve a multidisciplinary approach combining supportive counseling and sound therapy by audiologists in which coping strategies are emphasized. Some people try out devices like a hearing aid that creates a sound similar to a waterfall, which distracts from the triggers and reduces reactions. Other treatments include tinnitus-retraining therapy, counterconditioning, coping strategies, and others.

There are no specific medications for misophonia but you can discuss medication options with your doctor, as there could be other medications that can help you manage the symptoms. Some of them might be quite costly, so you can turn to useful websites such as Option Rx, to look for cheaper deals for the medications that can help you deal with this condition. Advances in research may identify new treatments for misophonia that involve specific medication, so consider this a way to protect your wallet.

What causes misophonia?

Researchers have yet to find what causes misophonia but there are a few factors that may play a role such as tinnitus, mental conditions, and brain chemistry. This condition appears more commonly in people who have OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), Tourette syndrome, tinnitus, and anxiety disorders. There can also be a potential connection between misophonia and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Although misophonia seems to be its own condition, it can overlap with other conditions, which trigger similar symptoms. For example, an anxious person with misophonia may experience a racing heart and increased sweating when they hear a specific sound, although they can also have these symptoms when facing other types of stress. In addition, it is estimated that 4% to 5% of people with tinnitus, which is a condition where people hear noises that no one else can hear, such as a ringing sound, experience some form of misophonia.

Symptoms of misophonia

Misophonia can be recognized by its main symptom, a strong negative reaction when hearing triggering sounds. The response might include a range of emotions, feelings, and physical sensations such as annoyance, irritation, rage, aggression, nervousness, and others. Some symptoms include a sense of panic or anxiety and pressure throughout the body or in the chest.

Some people even experience increased heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure. These symptoms usually appear for the first time during the preteen or teen years. People with this condition realize their reactions to sounds are excessive, and the intensity of their responses can make them feel like they’re losing control. This can affect their ability to complete daily tasks and engage in social interactions.

Common triggers of misophonia

Triggering sounds can vary widely from person to person, and they can change or increase over time. Note that even when this condition begins in response to one specific sound, other sounds might eventually trigger a similar reaction. Some of the most common misophonia triggers are sounds made by other people including:

  • Crunching
  • Loud breathing
  • Slurping
  • Throat clearing
  • Sniffling
  • Writing sounds
  • Pen clicking
  • Rustling of papers
  • Glasses clinking
  • Nail clipping
  • Mechanical humming

For some people, even visual triggers can cause a similar reaction. It can happen when they see someone wagging their legs or feet, twirling their hair, rubbing their nose, chewing with an open mouth, or moving their lips or jaw in a chewing position.

Final thoughts

The thing about people living with misophonia is that they don’t feel annoyed when they make similar sounds. Some people even find that mimicking the triggering sounds can help them ease the distress they cause. Most people with this condition can overcome its challenges by doing counseling, therapy, or anything else that can help them deal with it. Remember, getting support can make a huge difference.

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