Am I the only one that gets very anxious at the sound of someone chewing or slurping a drink? Sometimes, I get really angry at my husband for just eating (especially things that are crunchy). What is wrong with me?
Although we are not doctors and therefore cannot make a formal diagnosis, what you are describing sounds like misophonia…
Although we are not doctors and therefore cannot make a formal diagnosis, what you are describing sounds like misophonia, a relatively rare brain disorder which causes sufferers to react irrationally to “trigger” sounds like chewing, dripping, crunching, slurping, etc. While many of us may dislike the sound of chewing or slurping, people with misophonia become incredibly agitated–even panicky–when confronted with those noises. As a result, people with misophonia may become enraged at people they love (e.g., a husband) for making normal human noises. Some other common triggers include tongue clicking, sniffling, tapping (e.g., with a hand or pencil), nail clipping, and keys jangling.
There has been very little research on misophonia. However, a few recent studies using brain imaging have shown a correlation between triggering noises and increased activity in various regions of the brain in people with this disorder vs. a control group. Somehow, the brains of those with this sensitivity perceive certain “normal” sounds as threatening (much in the same way an anxiety brain perceives certain “normal” situations as threatening). In fact, brain scans show that a lot of the same regions that are involved in Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are also activated in misophonia.
The good news is that, since 2000, this condition has a name, so it is clear that (1) you are not alone (2) this is not your fault and (3) you are not just being too sensitive. The less good news (also known as bad news) is that there is no cure or treatment protocol (yet). Here are our suggestions for ways to manage misophonia:
One Anxiety Sister told us that therapy has been quite helpful in teaching her how to cope with her misophonia as well as her anxiety disorder. She has worked with her therapist to develop strategies on how to manage tough situations and to figure out how to best take care of herself. For example, she has learned that when she is tired or hungry, she is more easily triggered by certain sounds. She now knows that she should eat alone when she is in this situation. Exposure Therapy–repeated exposure to trigger noises in order to lessen their impact–is another tool that can be used in the treatment of misophonia.
Another Anxiety Sister, since starting an SSRI for her anxiety disorder, feels that the intensity of her agitation around chewing noises is less intense (even if her sensitivity is not). You should know that SSRI’s have not been approved for the treatment of misophonia, and she is on an SSRI primarily to treat her anxiety disorder.
We are big believers in Spin Kits (which we always recommend for anxiety of all kinds). Misophonia Sisters can carry earplugs to block out some of the noises that are triggers as well as, perhaps, a calming scent, soft music, something soothing to touch, peppermints or lemon drops, and other sensory aides.
Creating a noise-free environment where you can escape both at home and at work is another way of managing misophonia. Explaining the condition to loved ones will usually result in their support of such a space.
Those of us familiar with sensory processing dysfunction (also known as sensory integration disorder) can easily see how misophonia may be connected to sensory issues (often found in people with autism). Since occupational therapists often have expertise in helping people deal with sensory issues, they may also be a great resource in helping with strategies for dealing with misophonia. It may be worth reaching out to some (particularly pediatric) occupational therapists.
Anyone have any other strategies or techniques to share with the Sisterhood? Please let us know…
I seriously get so irritated by the sound of chewing, I have one co-worker, that when they decide to eat around where I am I either leave or put earphones in and listen to music. I use to think I was a weirdo for this until a few years ago, I was so glad there is an actual name for the disorder.
Thanks for sharing your strategy. That is a smart idea (earphones with music) and leaving the situation. It does seem that a hallmark of misophonia is that the sounds actually more than bother people, they actually enrage them. Again, thanks for sharing your strategy.
Mags and Abs
DeVona D Ludlow
I have been dealing with this since I can remember. It is not funny or fun….sorry for people other than myself have to deal with this, but so happy I am not the only one and it has a name!!!
I’ve heard of this disorder. I know my Dad has it as a result of PTSD issues. I’m not sure I have it or I’m just getting hard of hearing. My Honey’s rustling his chips bag and crunching is so loud I have to turn the TV volume up. I get annoyed when our dogs lick themselves in the middle of the night, too. Challenging to sleep through it. And yet, I can sleep through anything most times to the point of amazement that if an unwanted stranger entered the house I wouldn’t have a clue!
I have been dealing with this for many years. I just would like the anxiety to go away. It’s gotten so far that my students do it on purpose to get a rise out of me.
in your response it is mentioned that exposure therapy (such as for OCD) is useful for people suffering form misophonia. This is completely untrue and has been disproved by multiple scientific studie. I urge anyone suffering from misophonia to please not try exposure therapy alone, only with a trained professional who has studied misophonia. Exposure therapy for misophonia is very different from the ‘basic’ exposure therapy guidelines for other disorders.
I am a highly sensitive person and there are certain sounds that make me want to punch people in their Throats lol I have never acted on it though. I am a very passive person any other time. I know I exposure therapy would never work for me. I just leave the area when this happens or play music. Thank you for always being to helpful with your posts
I was hired by someone like this. After 4 months I got fired because he couldn’t stand the noises I brought into the job, like taking my laptop out of the case, taking a sip of water, etc. wish i could have read this article earlier this year! I’m still looking for a job!
I feel terrible because I can’t be around people eating loudly, especially ice and chips. Bags and plastic rattling drives me crazy. I know it’s all me though. I just have to leave the room
I have a touch of it myself but my son has it really bad. It’s like walking on eggshells here in my home stays in his room ninety-nine percent of the time because he can’t stand to be around anybody that’s eating drinking coughing sneezing sniffling chewing anyting. It’s torture for all of us in the house we try to be sympathetic his condition but instead of getting better it’s getting worse I’ve had him in therapy off and on for years he’s 23 years old now and it’s horrible his room was next to my and and if I cough even once he can’t sleep the whole night. In the car is the worst cuz you’re in close quarters you know what I mean and he’ll turn the heat or the air conditioner all the way up the radio on sometimes even headphones. We can never go on vacation unless I rented two rooms because he has a younger brother and they couldn’t be together because any sound that his brother would make during the night would be living hell in the beginning we thought he was just making it up and exaggerating until I learned of it cuz it’s also called sensory deceptive disorder and I was told when he was younger he would grow out of it no it just got worse and I do feel for him but sometimes I just want to scream she can’t even stand when I’m breathing in the car I told him I have to breathe to live. Anyway this is no joke it’s a horrible way of life especially watching him suffer like he does. He only had one girlfriend and 2 years she would have to eat in the other room and she had her own issues so finally that didn’t work out either so since then he hasn’t dated
this isn’t really a comment about this particular question. I wanted to know how I can post a question. Thank you.
I’m very interested in this as i am an audiologist.
After reading through this i just want to want Put a caution out there that the use of earplugs may seem helpful, but ….
“Ear plugs often are incorporated into a misophonia toolkit. However, ear plugs often make misophonia worse, because the ears must work harder to search for sound. Once the ear plugs are removed, sounds may appear more intense.”
Please consult an audiologist And ear nose and throat physician to help with The management of Misophonia.