Ever had a really bad day and felt like every little sound was annoying or frustrating you? We all have those days when we just want some peace and quiet in our lives, whether it’s after a long and tiring day at work or whether we’re down with the flu.
The loud chewing sounds our siblings make us want to go into hibernation and the noise from that drilling machine from across the street makes you want to give up studying for that big test. We almost always get better after some much needed me time and go back to enjoying the rest of our lives in the noisy existence that we have become so accustomed to.
However, for some individuals, the noise never ends. Every day becomes a struggle because you cannot escape the sounds of the world. This nightmarish condition is what is medically termed as “Misophonia” and contrary to popular belief it is a real condition and not just something people make up to justify being more sensitive.
So, what is misophonia you ask?
Well according to the Harvard Health Blog, it is a condition where individuals “are affected emotionally by common sounds — usually those made by others, and usually ones that other people don’t pay attention to” in such a way that everyday and normal sounds such as someone chewing, or yawning may even “create a fight-or-flight response that triggers anger and a desire to escape.”
Apart from becoming a cool buzzword, we still do not know a lot about this disorder in terms of how common it is or how it affects it’s victims. A lack of proper knowledge and awareness is also one reason why individuals who experience it feel uncomfortable sharing it with their health practitioners who mostly just disregard it anyways. The disorder, however, can have a serious negative impact on the daily personal and professional life of individuals who suffer from it as it wreaks havoc mentally, if left un-diagnosed.
This disorder can be a real danger to the people who live with it and to those in their surroundings because as per an article by ThriveTalk, “People with mild Misophonia feel anxious, uncomfortable, or disgusted by their trigger sound. But, those with more extreme cases have sounds that induce rage, fear, emotional distress, or the urge to hurt or kill the source of the noise.”
The trigger sounds which include the most routine and common noises such as breathing, pen clicking, chewing, clearing of the throat, background noise in public settings such as restaurants and even yawning might be of little consequence to us but to someone with misophonia, can be absolute torture.
So, where does the disorder come from?
Misophonia is most likely a psychological disorder although some state it might be due to an issue with the auditory system or an increased sensitivity to sounds. Due to it’s close resemblance to anxiety based disorders i.e. patients report increased heart rate and psychical symptoms, it is often misdiagnosed as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, due to it’s similarity with issues in sensory processing, it is even said to mirror symptoms of Autism.
However, unfortunately there is still no medical diagnostic for the disorder as of yet.
Some ways to reduce the discomfort produced by this condition include, wearing noise cancelling headphones in public places, meditation and even talk therapy.