Misophonia means "hatred of sound." Proposed in 2000 as a medical condition, misophonia results in triggering of negative emotions, thoughts, and certain physical reactions in a person after hearing specific sounds.

It’s not classified as either a psychiatric condition or an auditory condition and is very different from phonophobia.

Proponents of misophonia suggest that this condition can adversely affect a person’s ability to enjoy social situations and achieve life goals.

What Happens in Misophonia?

Also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, people suffering with misophonia state certain sounds tend to trigger a physiological or emotional responses.

According to them, these sounds can make them crazy. The reaction can range from annoyance to panic and desire to run away.

Triggers in individuals with misophonia often include vocal sounds (sounds made while chewing, breathing, or eating).

Other triggering sounds include finger or keyboard tapping, sounds of windshield wipers, etc. A small repetitive motion like wiggling or toes can also trigger it.

Causes Of Misophonia

People having misophonia state visual stimuli often accompany their symptoms. They also tend to respond intensely to any repetitive motions.

Researchers believe individuals with misophonia might have issues with the filtering of sounds by the brain. One of the features of misophonic sounds may be repetitive noise which can exacerbate auditory processing problems.

Responses To Misophonia

Response to misophonia ranges from mild to severe.

Mild Response

If you have mild misophonia, you might feel
  • Anxious
  • Disgust
  • Uncomfortable
  • Desire to flee

Severe Response

If the misophonic response is severe, then you might end up feeling:
  • Anger
  • Rage
  • Emotional Distress
  • Panic
  • Hatred
  • Fear
Misophonia can act as a major disruptor in your social life. People with misophonia are known to develop some anticipatory anxiety while going to places or situations where triggers may be present.

They might also avoid visiting social places like restaurants or end up eating separately from family or friends.

Over time, these individuals also start responding to visual triggers. Mere seeing of the trigger can elicit a response.

How Does One Get Misophonia

While there is no clarity about the specific age when a person gets this disorder, but people have reported feeling misophonic symptoms from ages 9 to 13.

It is more common in girls and comes on quickly, but doesn’t appear to be related to any particular event.

Doctors aren’t clear about the actual cause of developing misophonia, but they have ruled out ears as one of the contributing factors.

According to healthcare experts, misophonia is part physical and part mental. Misophonia could also be related to the way sound affects a person’s brain and triggers an automatic response.

Diagnosis Of Misophonia

Misophonia does not have any standard diagnostic criteria.

Misophonia is clearly distinguished from phonophobia (fear of sound) and hyperacusis, but it can occur in combination with either of them.

Very often, doctors are not clear about it, as a result of which consensus eludes in classification. Misophonia can occur either on its own or could tag along with other physical, developmental, and psychiatric conditions.

Since ears and hearing are normal, your doctor might have trouble in correctly diagnosing misophonia. It is also sometimes mistaken for bipolar, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

A recent study has shown misophonia as a disorder associated with the brain. Researchers have found a disruption in the connectivity in the areas which processes fight/flight response and sound stimulation.

It also involves areas that code the sounds based on their importance.

Treatment Of Misophonia

Even though misophonia can disrupt daily life, it can be managed.

Treatment of misophonia usually involves a multidisciplinary approach that combines sound therapy and supportive counseling, where coping strategies are emphasized.

Devices like hearing aids that mimic waterfall sounds can also help in treating misophonia. A person’s lifestyle plays a role in treating misophonia. Get plenty of sleep, regular exercise, and reduce stress levels.

You can also use headsets and earplugs to tune out sounds. Set up safe spots in your home where no one can bother you.