How to get over misophonia
Tips and Tricks: Sharp Hearing Care Professionals: AudiologyManaging Your Misophonia: Tips and Tricks: Sharp Hearing Care Professionals: Audiology
If you have misophonia, you know how frustrating it can be. Misophonia is a condition in which certain types of sounds can cause you to experience an intense emotional or physical response.
For example, the sound of someone chewing their food or drumming their fingers on a tabletop could cause you to become angry, fearful, or panicked, or could even provoke physical pain in your body.
Misophonia, which is a word that means “hatred of sound,” cannot be cured, unfortunately. But it can be managed with certain strategies.
Dr. Kevin Sharim and his team of care providers at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals are devoted to improving care for our patients with misophonia. We work with you to identify and implement management strategies that can reduce the impact that this condition has on your quality of life.
Here, we share some helpful tips for managing misophonia triggers.
Tip #1: Avoid mouth sounds
The most frequent triggers for misophonia reactions are “mouth sounds,” according to the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). These include chewing food or gum or making other sounds with the mouth, such as lip popping.
“Nose sounds” such as breathing, sniffling, or nose-blowing can also trigger reactions.
Naturally, you can’t always avoid mouth or nose sounds. But you can reduce your exposure to them by avoiding eating with other people, letting your dining companions know that mouth sounds can trigger you, and asking people around you not to chew gum or pop their lips.
Similarly, you can avoid nose sounds by keeping away from people with colds and allergies and asking friends and family to temporarily leave the room if they have to sneeze, blow their nose, or make other nose sounds.
Tip #2: Avoid finger sounds
“Finger sounds” create another top reaction trigger for people with misophonia. These include drumming on a table with one’s fingers, typing, clicking an item such as a pen, snapping one’s fingers, and other sounds made with the fingers.
As with nose and mouth sounds, you can protect yourself by making people around you aware of this trigger and asking them to avoid actions that lead to a reaction.
Tip #3: Use noise-canceling headphones
Noise-canceling headphones can block out trigger noises when you can’t avoid them in other ways. You can also consider using custom-made earmolds that utilize white noise, music, or other types of pleasant sound to help block out triggering noise.
Tip #4: Work with a therapist
Misophonia has some similarities to anxiety disorders, and as such, it may respond to anxiety-focused psychological therapy. (In fact, it is considered a cognitive condition rather than a hearing condition.)
Some therapeutic approaches to anxiety treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can help people with misophonia. Ask your hearing care provider or your primary care physician for a referral to a psychologist or therapist specializing in anxiety.
Tip #5: Use misophonia retraining therapy
This is a type of therapy that uses pleasant sounds to restructure the way you react to trigger sounds. Over time, this type of exposure therapy can desensitize you to troublesome sounds.
Tip #6: Connect with other misophonia sufferers
Connecting with other people who live with misophonia could help you put the condition in perspective. It may also provide you with helpful coping strategies. Meet others with misophonia through the Misophonia Association social media pages.
Tip #7: Educate friends and family
Keep in mind that some people may not take you seriously when you tell them, for example, that their finger drumming can cause you to have a serious emotional or physical reaction. People can find it hard to understand that sounds can cause intense reactions.
One way around this is through education. Point doubters to reliable online information such as this explanation from NCATS or this article from Harvard Health Publishing.
We also invite you to bring your spouse, older children, or care partner with you to an appointment in our office to have their questions answered by your provider.
Tip #8: Take good care of your hearing
Although misophonia isn’t technically a hearing condition, other conditions, such as hearing loss, can worsen it. For that reason, it’s important for you to stay on top of your hearing health.
We can help you with that. The highly trained experts at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals feel honored to help our patients hear better and improve their quality of life. Whether you need a hearing test, audiology consultation, comprehensive hearing evaluation, or hearing aid consultation, we stand ready to assist you with sensitivity and professionalism.
We invite you to schedule an appointment with our care team by contacting one of our offices, which are conveniently located in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, West Hills, and Santa Monica, California.
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Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment, and More
Repeated noises like chewing, pen tapping, sniffling, or scratching can cause annoyance and frustration for anyone.
But for people living with a condition called misophonia, originally known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, these noises are more than just bothersome. With misophonia, those small sounds, and plenty of others, can be downright unbearable.
To put it simply, misophonia involves an extreme sensitivity to certain sounds. As a matter of fact, the name “misophonia” comes from the Greek word for “hatred of sound.”
This hypersensitivity prompts a fight-or-flight response to triggering sounds. You might, for example, have an extreme urge to:
- leave the room immediately
- press your hands over your ears
- scream, “Stop making that sound!”
Some triggers might cause so much distress that you begin to avoid certain situations and people as a result. If eating sounds usually trigger this response, you might start eating all your meals alone and avoid going to restaurants, cafes, or any other public places where people might eat.
Researchers first proposed the name misophonia in 2001, and research remains in the relatively early stages. Some experts consider misophonia itself a condition, but others believe it might develop as a symptom of other mental health conditions.
Experts have yet to agree on specific criteria for diagnosing misophonia. But they do recognize it as a real concern that can have a significant impact on mental health and well-being. Many medical and mental health professionals can help you get treatment and support.
The most recent edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)” doesn’t include misophonia. That said, some doctors have suggested including it in future editions, in the “Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders” category.
Read on to get the details about misophonia, including symptoms, triggers, possible causes, and tips for coping.
You can generally recognize misophonia by its main symptom: a strong negative reaction when hearing triggering sounds.
More specifically, that response might include a range of feelings, emotions, and physical sensations:
- feelings of annoyance, irritation, and disgust
- anger, rage, or feelings of aggression, including a desire to lash out physically or verbally
- nervousness or uneasiness in situations that could involve triggering sounds
- a sense of anxiety or panic, including feelings of being trapped or losing control
- tightness or pressure throughout the body or in the chest
- increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
These symptoms generally appear for the first time during the preteen or teen years.
If you’re living with misophonia, you might recognize your response to certain sounds as somewhat extreme. Even so, you might find it tough to cope with the distress those sounds cause or to manage the intensity of your reaction on your own.
When you have a hard time coping with triggering sounds you hear in everyday life, you might start to avoid the places you typically hear those sounds. This might mean avoiding friends and family, or frequently missing work and school.
In short, misophonia can eventually disrupt daily life quite a bit.
Triggering sounds can vary pretty widely from person to person.
These triggers can also change or increase over time. Even when misophonia begins in response to one specific sound, as it often does, other sounds might eventually trigger a similar reaction.
Some of the most common misophonia triggers are oral sounds made by other people. Examples include:
- chomping or crunching
- loud breathing
- throat clearing
- lip smacking
Other triggers may include:
- writing sounds
- pen clicking
- rustling of papers or fabric
- clocks ticking
- shoes scuffing
- glasses or silverware clinking
- nail filing or clipping
- mechanical humming and clicking
- birds or crickets chirping
- animal grooming sounds
For some people, visual triggers can cause a similar reaction. This might happen if you see someone:
- wagging or jiggling their legs or feet
- rubbing their nose
- twirling their hair or pen
- chewing with an open mouth
- moving their lips or jaw in a chewing motion
If you’re living with misophonia, you might notice that making the same sound yourself typically doesn’t provoke any reaction at all. Some people with misophonia even find that mimicking the triggering sounds can help ease the distress they cause.
If you don’t have misophonia, you might wonder exactly how it can cause so much distress.
To better understand this condition, try imagining how you feel when you hear a sound you really hate. Nails scraping a chalkboard is one classic example. Others might include a car alarm going off or a baby wailing. When you hear those sounds, your skin might prickle as your nerves flare. You just want it to stop immediately.
When you don’t have misophonia, you’ll notice this response only rarely, in response to sounds that tend to bother most people. What’s more, since others around you might have a similar response, you’ll probably find it easy to express your annoyance or disgust.
People with misophonia experience that sensation on a regular and sometimes daily basis, in response to sounds other people hardly notice. Recognizing that most people would consider their reaction extreme can make it tough to open up about how they feel. This can add to their isolation and distress.
Dr. Barron Lerner, author and NYU professor living with misophonia, explains that trigger sounds feel, in a word, awful. “Like your blood is starting to boil,” he says, going on to explain that they can also cause physical symptoms of anxiety, like a racing heart and stomachache.
According to Dr. Marsha Johnson, an audiologist with the Oregon Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Treatment Clinic, people with misophonia start to experience the reaction before they’re even cognitively aware that they’re hearing the trigger sound.
“It’s like a tsunami of negative responses,” notes Johnson, who has studied misophonia for more than 20 years. “It’s instant. It’s huge. It takes over most of their cognitive functioning.”
Researchers aren’t yet certain what causes misophonia.
They do know it appears more commonly in people who also have:
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- anxiety disorders
- Tourette syndrome
Some have also suggested a potential connection between misophonia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Lerner notes that while misophonia seems to be its own condition, it definitely has some overlap with other conditions, including similar symptoms.
An anxious person with misophonia might experience increased sweating and a racing heart when they hear a particular noise. But they might also have these symptoms when they face any other type of stress, he explains.
Johnson points out that for years, people with misophonia were misdiagnosed with anxiety, phobias, and other mental health conditions. But misophonia has unique characteristics, including the following:
- It generally begins around puberty, with the first symptoms often appearing between the ages of 9 to 12.
- Women tend to report more severe symptoms.
- The initial trigger often comes from a parent or family member, but new triggers can develop over time.
- It often runs in families.
Emerging evidence offers a brain-based explanation for misophonia.
A small study from 2019 suggests that misophonia may develop thanks to a hypersensitive connection between your auditory cortex and your salience network. The auditory cortex is the part of the brain that processes sounds, and the salience network is responsible for determining what sounds (and other stimuli) you pay attention to.
This irregular connection leads to increased activity in certain parts of your brain, which prompts the intense emotional response you experience.
A small 2021 study linked misophonia to larger amygdala volume, along with irregular brain connectivity. The amygdala, if you were wondering, helps process emotions, including your reactions to things that frighten or threaten you. Researchers suggest your response to certain sounds may relate, in part, to the amygdala’s size.
Currently, there’s no cure for misophonia, but you do have options for managing your symptoms.
Tinnitus retraining therapy
Tinnitus causes you to hear sounds, like ringing in your ears, that no one else can hear.
Tinnitus retraining therapy was originally designed to help people with tinnitus learn to accept and tolerate those sounds. It can also help people with misophonia learn to cope with trigger sounds.
This treatment pairs a weaker sound trigger with something that prompts positive or happy feelings, like a favorite song, photo of a loved one, or something soothing to the touch. In a 2015 case study, this treatment helped a woman with misophonia reduce her response to sound triggers.
Your go-to coping technique might involve leaving a room when you hear a trigger, but sometimes, you might not be in a position to leave.
Other things to try might include:
- using noise-canceling headphones
- listening to music, calming sounds, or white noise
- distracting yourself with a calming mantra or affirmation
- politely asking the person making the sound to stop
According to Johnson, audio of rain, nature, or other similar sounds has proven particularly effective in her work, with up to 85 percent of users experiencing some relief in their symptoms.
Therapy with a trained mental health professional offers a safe space to open up about the distress misophonia causes. Through therapy, you can learn effective strategies to cope with the condition.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that helps you address and reframe unwanted thoughts and reactions. This type of therapy could go a long way toward helping you navigate the emotions and physical sensations caused by triggering sounds.
Interested in connecting with others living with misophonia? The nonprofit Misophonia Association offers more information about support groups throughout the United States, plus a directory of professionals who treat misophonia.
What about medication?
At this time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any medication to treat misophonia. No conclusive evidence suggests medication can help treat the condition.
If you have symptoms of both misophonia and another mental health condition, such as anxiety, OCD, depression, or ADHD, a doctor or psychiatrist can offer more information about medications that could help improve symptoms of these conditions.
Most people with misophonia find it possible to overcome its challenges, Johnson concludes. In other words, getting support could make a big difference.
Get tips on finding the right therapist or explore options for online therapy.
Why misophonia appears and what to do about it - SakhaLife
Beauty & Health
Misophonia refers to the intolerance of certain sounds, both soft and loud.
In this case, a person can be driven into a frenzy, for example, champing, crunching chips or rustling a bag. However, some with misophonia do not experience anger, but, for example, uncontrollable panic. nine0003
Usually this trait is considered a sign of bad manners or bad character, but in reality everything is much more complicated.
Doctors consider misophonia to be a neurological disorder that occurs when there is too much activity in the front of the brain. This area is responsible for the connection of sensations with emotions.
The reasons for this over-sensitivity to specific sounds are not fully understood. But there are several possible explanations.
First, misophonia may be the result of post-traumatic neurosis. And an unpleasant sound is strongly associated with a negative experience. At the same time, a person can already forget the event itself. nine0003
Secondly, misophonia may be a legacy of our ancestors. Sounds, especially high-frequency sounds, signaled danger.
In addition, misophonia is often a genetic trait.
American neurologist Richard Saitowic believes that misophonia may be a form of synesthesia, when people see the color of music or the shape of words. He is sure that misophonia is a sign of extraordinary giftedness.
However, misophonia can also accompany obsessive-compulsive disorder. Of course, if there are other symptoms. nine0003
An extreme form of misophonia is accompanied by outbursts of aggression or panic that the person cannot control. And in this case, he begins to consciously isolate himself from others. Therefore, misophonia needs to be treated.
Most often, an integrated approach is used with a visit to a psychologist and prescription of medications. Misophonics are prescribed cognitive behavioral therapy and electrical stimulation. There are also "white noise" devices that allow you to block unpleasant sounds. You can also use regular earplugs. nine0003
However, there is no specific cure for misophonia.
According to tests in which volunteers took part, we are most annoyed by such sounds as:
knife scraping on glass;
surface scratching with nails;
dripping tap water;
sound of a drill, drill and perforator;
train wheels grinding against rails;
bad violin playing.
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How to overcome misophonia? | PSYCHOLOGIES
Know Yourself A Man Among Men
Intolerance to certain sounds is called misophonia. This is a chronic condition in which sounds produced by other people (champing, chewing, swallowing, noisy breathing, sniffing the nose, crunching fingers, clattering the keyboard) cause excitement and a violent emotional reaction: hysteria, screaming, panic. nine0003
It is little known, but it is safe to say that a severe form of misophonia leads to serious consequences and certain limitations in daily life. Misophons have to avoid situations that can provoke the reactions described above, which affects their work, family and social life. And it is likely that over time, forced isolation will only get worse.
This is what 27-year-old Vera, who suffers from misophonia, says: “Champing noises make me furious. If my husband starts eating, for example, an apple, I immediately go to another room, otherwise I won’t be able to restrain myself and start screaming.” A shared meal can turn into a real source of stress for one of the family members. nine0003
The term "misophonia" was coined by Pavel Yastrebov of Emory University, who studied the phenomenon with audiology expert Marsha Johnson. She found in many people an aversion to certain sounds, especially those that are inevitable during meals. At first, she defined this condition as “soft sound sensitivity,” because for some of her subjects, it was low-frequency sounds that were unbearable.
There is no exact data on the number of people suffering from misophonia. But it can be assumed that it is much more common than it seems. Last year, Monica Wu and Eric Storch from the University of South Florida conducted a study on 483 students and found that 20% had signs of misophonia. However, the representativeness of the group is questionable: more than 80% were women, plus all participants were promised additional points in psychology. nine0003
Both Monica Wu and psychiatrist Arjan Schroeder of the University of Amsterdam found a link between misophonia and obsessive-compulsive disorder and suggested that sound intolerance could be considered a variation of it. Pavel Yastrebov considers the approach to misophonia as a psychiatric disorder incorrect and, having worked with hundreds of patients, is convinced that this is just a reduced tolerance for sounds.
It is better for misophones to choose work in noisy places, listen to music with headphones, turn on the fan
As already mentioned, misophonia is little known, but ways to deal with it are known. A multidisciplinary team of specialists can be consulted, including an audiologist for therapy and a psychologist to help manage emotions.
Monica Wu claims that cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is effective in overcoming sound intolerance. Pavel Yastrebov, in his work with patients, uses the technique of desensitization therapy (desensitization is the reduction of an anxious reaction to certain situations, images, etc.). nine0003
There are also misophone support groups, both real and virtual. For example, a forum or a closed community on Facebook (an extremist organization banned in Russia) Misophonia Support Group. In addition, it can be recommended to muffle annoying sounds. For example, choose to work in noisy places (dance clubs, bowling centers), listen to music with headphones, turn on a fan, install decorative fountains or aquariums with bubbling water.
Source: ilPost. nine0012
Text: Maria Ishchenko Photo Source: Getty Images
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