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6 Things to Know About Misophonia

August 31, 2017

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Misophonia, also known as “selective sound sensitivity syndrome,” is the psychological condition that causes people to have strong feelings of rage, hatred, fear and distress when met with certain “trigger” sounds like chewing or incessant pen clicking.

The recognition of the disorder is relatively new so treatment is in the early stages. But, there are therapies in the works to help you or someone you love who may suffer from it.

Here are 6 things to know about misophonia.

1. No one knows why it happens. “It’s hard for us to say or understand what it is precisely that happens in the brain to cause this reaction,” said Dr. Bruce Hubbard, Director of Cognitive Health Group and President of the New York City Cognitive Behavior Therapy Association. “For whatever reason, it’s that nails-on-a-chalk-board effect that sends an emotional shiver in people (misophonia sufferers),” he said.

2. There are five main categories of trigger sounds. Dr. Dean McKay, President of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology and previous President of the Association for Behavioral Cognitive Therapies, has grouped sounds based on their origins for the survey in his treatment trial for misophonia patients. They are: mouth sounds like chewing and slurping, breathing noises like nose whistling, vocal noise like humming, body movements like knuckle cracking and miscellaneous irritants like crumpling snack wrappers.

3. It starts early. “Misophonia starts in early childhood, the trigger sounds are bothersome from a young age and get worse over the years into adulthood,” said Dr. Hubbard. Because it starts so early, misophonia creates extreme emotional problems and negative thinking around sounds that becomes much more difficult to treat over time.

4. It might spring from anxiety. “Fairly early research seems to indicate that, generally, people with misophonia also struggle with stress and anxiety,” Dr. McKay told the Daily News. It’s not official as his trial is still ongoing, but if the disorder is connected to anxiety, more treatment options could become possible.

5. It’s life-altering. “Some people avoid activities or going places where they know their trigger sounds might be a problem,” said Dr. McKay. Misophonia symptoms, like hating the sound of another person eating, can become so disabling that people won’t eat out at restaurants or even with other people at all. “Remember that this is a genuine adverseness and the misophonia sufferer can actually feel physical pain so this reaction is not done to annoy or inconvenience anyone else,” he said.

6. Treatment’s in the works. “We’re nearly done with collecting data from the trial,” said Dr. McKay. “There are two interventions: stress management therapy and exposure to sounds where we carefully develop a sequence of sounds and, in a controlled way, help people to tolerate it,” he said.

Article courtesy of Ariel Scotti for The New York Daily News.