Misophonia: When noises burden the psyche

Noise makes you sick. With misophonia, however, the volume is not the problem. Some noises can cause a lot of stress in those affected. The triggers are varied: chewing, breathing, rustling or heels on asphalt. Those affected experience disgust, anger and aggression when listening or even react with physical symptoms.

For many people, things are slowly but surely moving from the home office back to the office. This is a relief for many, but for people with misophonia this switch back to “normal” everyday work can be a burden. In large offices and the canteen in particular, those affected are exposed to noise that is perceived as disturbing. There are often no opportunities to retreat.

Misophonia: where does the hatred of sounds come from?

The causes of the noise intolerance are not yet clear, but it is suspected that there is a connection with bad experiences in the past in which the noise was heard. There is also some evidence that emotional control mechanisms are disturbed in misophonia.

So far there has been little research on the phenomenon, misophonia is not considered a recognized mental illness. Experts have also so far disagreed as to whether this is a psychological or neurological reaction.

However, many people report their experiences and their disgust at certain sounds. The level of suffering varies greatly and also depends on the extent to which trigger situations can be avoided.

No Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Noise can also lead to negative feelings and physical symptoms in people with other mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. In most cases, however,  fear  or  panic is then  felt, not anger and disgust. There are also often other misdiagnoses such as  ADHD , hyperacusis (sensitivity to noise) or phobias.

Misophonia often occurs very early: children are also affected by the phenomenon, and there can be problems at school. Sometimes misophonia does not develop until adulthood.

Misophonia: tips for everyday life

People who suffer from misophonia often avoid certain situations. However, some noises cannot be completely avoided.

These tips will help with misophonia:

  • Talking about it:  Those who suffer from misophonia often benefit from describing their suffering and the associated emotions to those around them. If, for example, chewing noises are perceived as a trigger and there is a socially inappropriate reaction to food in the office, this can lead to tension. Talking about it and explaining that it has nothing to do with the person eating per se relaxes the environment and avoids conflicts.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones:  If the noises in the environment cause you a lot of emotional stress, good noise-cancelling headphones can help. They block out all noise.
  • Organize breaks:  Are you bothered by the noise of food? Avoid taking lunch breaks together in the canteen. Eat somewhere quiet and enjoy the tranquility. A break should give you strength and not rob you of your energy. If there is social pressure to eat together, the best thing to do is to address misophonia. If you don’t want to miss the break with your colleagues, you can get creative. A walk together after lunch avoids the awkward sounds of eating while still spending time together.
  • Reduce stress  :  Many people become more intolerable to noise the worse they are in general. If the stress at work or in the family is high, then the triggers will also have a stronger effect. Good stress management is therefore important when dealing with misophonia. Autogenic training, progressive  muscle relaxation , a  hot bath  in the evening, or  yoga  can help.
  • For parents:  If the child suffers from misophonia, it is important to take the emotions seriously and to support the child in dealing with them. In order to avoid problems at school, the teachers should be involved so that suitable solutions can be found together. Many schools have noise-cancelling headphones, and in many cases you can bring your own. Good solutions and strategies can also usually be found for school breaks.


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