Do you have misophonia?

Do you have misophonia?

According to Dr. Rian Rowles a psychiatrist with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., misophonia, or the “hatred of sound,” is a disorder that causes people to have strong and negative reactions to certain noises.

We all might hate the sound of nails on a chalkboard, rubbing Styrofoam together or other unpleasant sounds, but Dr. Rowles says individuals who suffer from misophonia typically become agitated by sounds most people are accustomed to. For example, a pen clicking, heavy breathing or chewing.

“Misophonia can cause those affected to have anxiety or panic attacks, become full of rage and ultimately interfere with their ability to live their life,” says Dr. Rowles.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, misophonia was only recently considered a disorder as of 2000. Researchers in Amsterdam say these are the most common misophonia triggers:

  • Eating sounds – lip smacking, chewing, swallowing, etc.
  • Loud breathing and nose sounds, such as sniffling
  • Finger or hand sounds, such as cracking of knuckles

Dr. Rowles says these are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • Aggression towards people making certain sounds, especially if irritation or disgust turns into anger and results in verbal or physical lashing out
  • Avoiding people making certain triggering sounds
  • Rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure or muscle tightness towards certain sounds

Because misophonia is still so new, there are no specific medications available for treating it. However, Dr. Rowles says there are ways to manage or cope with the disorder. For example:

  • Find a supportive therapist who is familiar with the disorder
  • Let your family and friends know about your struggles and with which sounds you are having difficulty
  • When possible, avoid trigger sounds or bring earplugs or headphones to help subside noises
  • Practice meditation and relaxation skills to help divert your attention from trigger sounds

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  1. Maybe this behavioral health issue stimulates from one’s inability to cope with irritable sounds and not a diagnosis. While things irritate us all, we mostly learned to deal with things we don’t like and others may find it harder.

  2. Hello, my daughter has been struggling with this disorder for over 15 years. She is 33 years old. It is nice to see and hear that people are finally looking at this and realizing how difficult life is with misophonia. It is not only difficult for the person experiencing it l, bit also for those who live with them. It seems that it would be easy. But some sounds are just natural and difficult to just stop when around those afflicted with this disorder. Is there more information about misophonia that I can read to be more informed and help my daughter.
    Thank you Lisa McCord

  3. I had this when I was younger. My ears were very sensitive and sounds would cause me to react in either pain or irritation. As I aged, my hearing sensitivity has diminished. My daughter has this so I am able to emphasize and do what I can to prevent her from being subjected to noise the either causes her pain or irritation.

  4. It was proven by the recent study that the Fight-Fly-Freeze reaction to certain sounds has a physical reason behind it and that when people with misophonia hear trigger sounds, the brain zones that are affected are completely different from those that are affected in misophonia-free people. So no, it is not an inability to cope, it is a neurological problem.

  5. There are several Facebook support groups for misophonia sufferers

About the Author

Jamie Bonnema
Jamie Bonnema

Jamie Bonnema, health enews contributor, is a specialist of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She earned her BA in communications from DePaul University in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, going to concerts, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.