What Is Misophonia?
Most everyone dislikes the sound of nails on a chalkboard. Imagine, however, if a simple sound could cause you to panic or become enraged. Such is the case for people who suffer from misophonia, a bizarre disorder that can significantly lower the quality of life.
Also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, misophonia causes intense physical and psychological reactions to specific trigger noises. These triggers can vary widely based on each person. For some, it could be listening to others yawn, chew, breathe, eat or whistle. For others, it could be small repetitive motions, such as someone jostling, fidgeting or wiggling their feet. Whatever the case, when people with misophonia hear their specific trigger sounds, they can have significant, unpleasant reactions.
Misophonia responses can vary in intensity depending on the person and/or trigger. When a person experiences a mild reaction, he or she may demonstrate the following:
- An urge to flee
When a person with misophonia experiences an extreme response to specific stimuli, he or she may exhibit:
- Skin crawling
- Emotional distress
- Suicidal thoughts
- A desire to stop or kill whatever is making the noise
What Is the Cause?
Experts aren’t sure what causes misophonia, but they do not believe it has anything to do with ear problems. Instead, most researchers attribute the disorder to the way sound impacts the brain and how it triggers automatic reactions within the body.
Sadly, misophonia can have a big impact on a person’s life by causing social and career difficulties. While there’s no cure, you can learn to better manage the condition by getting plenty of sleep, exercise and by better managing stress. Ear plugs, white noise machines and support groups have also been shown to reduce the impact of this frustrating disorder.