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Are You Irritated With Normal Sounds? You May Have Misophonia

Do ordinary sounds of someone chewing, pen tapping or the creaking sound of a door bother you? If it's so, then you may have misophonia, a disorder which makes you hate sounds that can lead to feelings of rage, anxiety, and panic.


What Is Misophonia?

Misophonia meaning 'hatred of sound' is a neurophysiological condition in which people react abnormally to normal specific sounds. A study found that 29 per cent of people with misophonia became verbally aggressive when hearing the noise they disliked and another 17 per cent showed their anger against objects [1] .

However, in some cases misophonics also react to sounds which are unpleasant for instance, breathing softly or whispering.

Misophonics usually can't ignore these sounds and get irritated fast. This has a negative effect on their lives says a study [2] . They start avoiding social gatherings and wreak havoc on their relationships.

What Causes Misophonia?

Researchers have investigated whether misophonia is caused by other psychiatric or physical conditions like OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), eating disorders, tinnitus, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to a case study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, some of these conditions are linked with misophonia, but not all these conditions can explain misophonic symptoms which brings to the conclusion that misophonia is a separate and independent condition on its own [2] .

Symptoms Of Misophonia

The symptoms start in late childhood or in early teenage years.

  • Irritation and disgust transforming to anger
  • Showing verbal or physical aggression with objects or to the opposite person
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Pressure in the chest
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Muscle tightness
  • Increase in body temperature and heartbeat
misophonia causes

What Kind Of Sounds Trigger Misophonia?

The most common sounds are:

  • Heavy breathing or nose sounds affect 64.3 per cent of misophonics.
  • Eating sounds affect 81 per cent.
  • Finger or hand sounds affect 59.5 per cent.
  • Certain physical actions affect 11.9 per cent.

Other sounds that trigger misophonia are throat clearing, lip-smacking, writing sounds, papers rustling, clock ticking, car doors slamming, and chirping sounds of birds, crickets or other animals [3] .

MRI imaging was done on misophonic individuals to analyze their brains which found that trigger sounds produced more responses in the anterior insular cortex (AIC) [4] . The anterior insular cortex is a part of the brain responsible for processing emotions.

Diagnosis Of Misophonia

There is no clear diagnosis for his disorder because it has many barriers. The disorder is sometimes mistakenly to be obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety or bipolar disorder. This makes it difficult for doctors to figure out the actual disorder.

How To Manage Misophonia

There is no cure for misophonia, but it can be managed with the following:

  • Counselling can help a misophonic person in managing the disorder [5] .
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is given to teach people to tolerate noises that trigger them [6] . In this therapy, the patient is introduced to pleasant music or environmental sounds. This lets them learn to create positive associations with sound through practice and intentional rethinking.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is used in combination with TRT. It aids in changing the negative associations people have with triggering sounds. Study shows that this therapy is effective in managing misophonia [7] . CBT mainly focuses on a person's thoughts, behaviour, and feelings to identify the unhealthy patterns and replace it.

Other ways of managing misophonia include talk therapy and lifestyle changes like exercise, proper sleep and avoid stress.

View Article References
  1. [1] Schröder, A., Vulink, N., & Denys, D. (2013). Misophonia: diagnostic criteria for a new psychiatric disorder.PLoS One,8(1), e54706.
  2. [2] Rouw, R., & Erfanian, M. (2018). A Large‐Scale Study of Misophonia.Journal of clinical psychology,74(3), 453-479.
  3. [3] Brout, J. J., Edelstein, M., Erfanian, M., Mannino, M., Miller, L. J., Rouw, R., Kumar, S., … Rosenthal, M. Z. (2018). Investigating Misophonia: A Review of the Empirical Literature, Clinical Implications, and a Research Agenda.Frontiers in neuroscience,12, 36.
  4. [4] Kumar, S., Tansley-Hancock, O., Sedley, W., Winston, J. S., Callaghan, M. F., Allen, M., Cope, T. E., Gander, P. E., Bamiou, D. E., … Griffiths, T. D. (2017). The Brain Basis for Misophonia.Current biology : CB,27(4), 527-533.
  5. [5] Taylor, S. (2017). Misophonia: A new mental disorder?.Medical hypotheses,103, 109-117.
  6. [6] Cavanna, A. E. (2014). What is misophonia and how can we treat it?.
  7. [7] Schröder, A. E., Vulink, N. C., van Loon, A. J., & Denys, D. A. (2017). Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in misophonia: An open trial.Journal of Affective Disorders,217, 289-294.

Read more about: misophonia disorder
Story first published: Wednesday, March 6, 2019, 15:40 [IST]
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