Noise makes many feel uneasy and disoriented, and rightfully so, but that’s not what Misophonis’ is about. It’s about so much more. Let’s look at an illustration to explain better what we mean.
Your house sits in a corner that is close to the road. It is noon, and you are back home. You want to get some rest and take a nap, but the noise from moving vehicles and hooting cars does not allow it. It is so frustrating that you want to open the window and yell out.
Another illustration is this: You want a great evening in your home, but your neighbor next door has chosen this special evening to play all the songs on their hard-rock playlist from their favorite bands. On top of this, this so-called neighbor has decided to increase the speaker’s volume so much that you cannot hear your voice.
While other people might find this plain annoying, it’s a bit much for you. Almost suffocating—that’s Misophonia meaning.
But again, that’s not all. Some involuntary sounds— some even quiet— can upset people and, in many cases, trigger their anxiety, making them want to give the reactionary flight or fight response. Some of these sounds, such as pen clicking, chewing noises, feet tapping, and so on, are also responsible for a condition known as misophonia.
You want to understand better misophonia, know what causes it, and how to get help. Don’t worry; here, we will explain misophonia, tell you what you need to know, and show you how to get help.
What is misophonia?
Psychology Today and Medical News Today say, “Misophonia is an extreme emotional and physical response to seemingly innocuous, repetitive sounds like chewing, lip-smacking, and even breathing.”
This means that people with misophonia are highly sensitive to harmless and inoffensive sounds (usually familiar sounds), affecting their emotions and kicking up a disturbing response.
In 2001, the word was first coined and used by two researchers, Margaret M. Jastreboff, Ph.D., and Pawel J. Jastreboff, Ph.D., ScD, in a study.
Misophonia was coined from the Greek words misos, which means hate, and phone, which means voice. Brought together, they mean “hatred of sound.”
Studies have shown that, unlike how any noise in general could irritate people, this sensitivity to sound does not occur with every sound. Discomforting auditory sensations tend to happen in people with misophonia when only specific sounds are made. These sounds could differ from person to person but are commonly harmless. Let’s see some of them.
Some triggering sounds
Note that these triggers differ from person to person. While one person might be triggered by one sound, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is universal. But when you’re offended by a sound, then it doesn’t change. That said, here are a few common trigger sounds that spike up the feeling of Misphonia.
- Chewing and crunching noises like smacking gum or chewing loudly.
- Pen tapping or any other pen noise.
- The tick of the clock, an alarm clock, or a timer.
- Finger tapping
- Crackling sounds
- Sound of footsteps, especially when it’s continuous.
- Whistling sounds
- Sniffling or other continuous sound from the mouth or nose.
- Keyboard clanking
- Breathing heavily
- Sound of dripping water, and so on.
Now that we know some of the triggers, let’s identify the symptoms of this sound-sensitivity challenge called misophonia.
You may think that misophonia meaning is just about sound sensitivity. It is far more than that. It can do many things to people who have it that almost—and sometimes does—curtail their ability to participate in regular daily activities. In short, it may prevent them from enjoying the entire life that they desire and deserve. Let’s peer into some of these symptoms.
Increased heart rates
Please note that heart rates can increase for lots of reasons. But, when it becomes a regular reaction to specific inoffensive sounds, you can suspect that you are suffering from misophonia. An increased heart rate can signal the presence of panic or anxiety.
One thing that can cause anxiety is the feeling of losing control. When you do not seem in control, panic can set in, and your organs begin to sprint. When people with misophonia hear their trigger sounds, this sense of loss of control sets in, and anxiety comes as torture. It can be crippling because you would be unsure what to do except make drastic moves like fight or flight. If you find yourself reacting this way, to some of the mentioned sounds, you should tell someone whom you trust or a professional. This will go a long way toward helping.
Here is another. The panic that anxiety brings makes someone with misophonia either want to stay and fight or disappear. This is called fight or flight. However, aggression can be a form of fight reaction. Trigger sounds fuel rage, which can turn into a verbal or physical attack.
Many who have misophonia may begin to isolate themselves. If a child has a sensitivity to sound, they begin to withdraw. For instance, you take your child to school every day. At first, they used to be very happy and eager to go to school. Suddenly, you begin to sense some dread in them when it is time for school, but you ignore it. You get a message one day that they have been avoiding classes and hiding in the quiet of the school’s garden. A child’s truancy can happen for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons might be a severe sensitivity to sound— misophonia.
Avoidance of certain places or people
If you regularly experience your trigger sounds in your workplace, there is a high likelihood that you will begin to avoid where these sounds are. The triggers will unsettle you and prevent you from doing your best work or even working at all. People need to produce their best work in the workplace when under regular panic.
If you know a child, coworker, family member—or anyone who shows some of these symptoms, do not assume their condition. Instead, create a safe space for them to express themselves. They could be suffering from a disorder called misophonia. Listen attentively to them. When you have heard their plight, refer them to a professional.
While professionals have recognized it as a disorder and are being addressed as one, there is still a lot of research going on at the moment to identify specific misophonia causes. But, researchers noticed it might be more common among people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). They have also discovered that it could result from genetics because a patient has at least one family member who also suffers from similar misophonia symptoms. However, there has been no conclusion yet.
Can it affect anyone?
While what is known is that it can affect just about anybody, research has also helped discover that it seems to be more common in people with two X chromosomes (XX). Although it affects both old and young folks, it is noticed to have developed during the younger years as a teenager.
Another thing to note is that people who suffer from this disorder do not talk about it soon enough because of fear or shame that they think might come with it. If you do not have misophonia, you will most likely not be able to understand the struggle that comes with it and are more likely to dismiss the pain of those who struggle with it. We recommend that you listen to people dealing with this issue when they open up. We also recommend that if you need help, speak out and, even more, reach out to professionals trained to help you get through this effectively.
Will it last forever?
The simple answer at the moment is that its duration is unknown. At the moment, what is known is that it can last a lifetime. However, because there is not so much deep dive into it, the present research has yet to give a known time frame that it could last. But don’t worry; we will discuss how misophonia specialists can help you get through it.
Treatment for misophonia can only be done by misophonia specialists. While there may not be a particular doctor to address all issues that the condition entails, different professionals will play roles in treating misophonia. Some are psychiatrists, psychologists, audiologists, neurologists, and so on. Each has a specific role to play in making your health condition better.
Treatment for misophonia
If you find that you are sensitive to noise, this may not necessarily be a disorder. But if you notice that specific sounds—harmless sounds— trip you up so much that you become enraged, you may have misophonia.
You need people who know how to treat misophonia. We mentioned some of them earlier. Having misophonia might mean you have other underlying mental health conditions, so therapy and medicine could be prescribed to get your health back in shape.