Misophonia - Do certain noises distress you?
What if an everyday noise, often quiet, frequently related to human activities, sometimes a specific individual, triggered particularly unpleasant feelings and sensations; Sometimes, these feelings can be so strong they can impact the individual’s behaviour, appearing aggressive and/or avoiding certain social situations.
Misophonia is a condition that we are beginning to understand in more depth; certain sounds and associated triggers can cause the affected individual to have heightened fight-or-flight responses. Whilst phonia and misophonic symptoms have only been identified in the last 2 to 3 decades, evidence is growing to demonstrate the benefits of cognitive and sound-based therapy.
Examples might include chewing, coughing, sneezing, and swallowing. Some repetitive noises can also have the same effect; consider windscreen wipers on a car or sometimes the tapping of a keyboard repeatedly or what appears to be a simple clock ticking noise. Sometimes these can also become associated with visual cues, perceived as a worsening of symptoms; our understanding of what is an acceptable noise/pattern may not be the case for someone experiencing misophonia.
People experiencing this neurological condition may find themselves avoiding social interactions, feeling fearful and anxious, having a sense of isolation, and potentially experiencing symptoms of depression. Misophonia symptoms do vary, the severity ranges from mild to severe. The level of reaction to the misophonic trigger can appear disproportionate; in most cases, individuals are aware of this and can lead to feelings of anxiety and avoidance. To what extent these responses become learnt behaviours is also worth exploring.
Individuals with misophonia may find themselves struggling to get the support they need from friends and family, employers, and possibly their healthcare provider. Talking therapies, including counselling and CBT, can help people to develop distraction techniques and skills that help manage the feelings that might arise; helping to minimise the impact of misophonia on their everyday lives.
Based on statistics misophonia symptoms are typically first observed in childhood or early adolescence and can progress into adulthood; Treatment in adults can provide symptom reduction; identifying and understanding any specific links to a particular individual is also important.
It appears that some of the current treatments for tinnitus can also be helpful for people experiencing Misophonia; this includes the use of white noise as an example. Whilst these two conditions are different; the use of Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) offers people with misophonia as well as tinnitus an effective tool to reduce the trigger response(s).
Misophonia is sometimes associated with other auditory and mental health conditions – please speak to an audiologist for advice; as previously mentioned, this condition can create feelings of anxiety as well as anger.
Currently, there is no known cure, scientific data remains limited. Managing the condition by accessing the right support for you is a key step. Treating this neurological condition by working with the subconscious, and using cognitive hypnotherapy offers further support, helping to change the way we think about certain triggers.
If you would like to discuss this further and share your experiences, please do reach out.