When someone chews with their mouth open or makes slurping sounds, do you get stressed? Can’t concentrate when the person next to you is a noisy breather?
Then you might be part of the 20% of people suffering from misophonia.
The crunch from biting an apple or the whistling from a clogged nose. For those suffering from misophonia, these kinds of sounds are unbearable and often lead to anxiety, anger, stress, or panic, according to the BBC.
The word “misophonia”, literally means “the hatred of sound”. The phenomenon, also called Selective Sound Sensitivity, causes a person to suffer a strong emotional response to a particular sound or the expectation that it will occur.
There is a variety of triggering sounds, but the most common relate to food — crunching, slurping or sipping.
Avoid most social contexts
The response causes a release of adrenaline and a supply of energy to respond to the perceived threat. This comes with a fast heartbeat, accelerated and short breaths, stress, shakiness, and sweating.
People with misophonia tend to avoid most social contexts — which makes it very difficult to keep healthy relationships.
When encountering one of these triggers, a “fight or flight” response kicks in. The person feels forced to either confront the person who is producing the sound or walk away to escape the situation.
Ignoring the sounds is impossible for people with misophonia — and they possess a reduced ability to control their emotions.
CBT could help
A study at Newcastle University showed that up to 20% of the world’s population, has clear symptoms of misophonia. There are no proven methods for curing the diagnosis, but cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown positive results.
But what is this selective sound sensitivity about?
Research has shown that for people with misophonia, the part of the brain that combines our senses with our emotions – the anterior insular cortex – is way more active and connected to other parts of the brain in a different fashion.
It has also been investigated whether the diagnosis can be linked to other physical or mental conditions such as tinnitus, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or severe stress.
However, the results show that none of these diseases are directly responsible for the disorder — but their presence may further enhance it.
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