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Are You Traumatized By Everyday Sounds?

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Are You Traumatized By Everyday Sounds? about Vital Force

If people who chew noisily, slurp their drinks, or sniff repeatedly drive you crazy, you’re in good company; many feel the same way.

But for some, the sounds made by these unwelcome behaviors go well beyond irritation. Some people experience a fight-or-flight response, triggering feelings of distress, anger, or panic. These people suffer from a recently identified condition called misophonia.

Perhaps you suffer from this often-overlooked condition, or maybe a friend or relative is a victim. You’d be surprised how many people are afflicted.

Misophonia is a disproportionate emotional response to everyday sounds.

On hearing an unsettling sound, people with this condition suffer a range of emotional, physical, or behavioral symptoms including disgust, anger, irritation, fear, anxiety, muscle tension or other fight-or-flight reactions. People can also experience high blood pressure, chest tightness, sweating and an increase in heart rate.

Not surprisingly, sufferers do all they can to avoid the triggering sounds, even if this means withdrawing from social activities. When avoidance isn’t possible, misophonia can lead to verbal and physical aggression.

More Common Than First Thought

To date, misophonia is not recognized as an official disorder but last year a committee of mental health experts created the official definition.

So far, there’s little research on the prevalence of misophonia, with reported estimates varying from as little as five to as many as 20 percent of the population in the small number of studies carried out.

To get more clarity and precision on the statistics, researchers from Kings College London developed a sophisticated and robust psychometric tool to capture the severity, complexity, and prevalence of misophonia.

Causes Distress to Almost One in Five People

The London team enrolled 772 people who were representative of the general population across gender, age, and ethnicity. About 86 percent of the volunteers had never heard of the condition and only 2.3 percent identified as having it.

The team investigated the sounds that triggered people, offering the cohort 37 to consider.

These included cutlery, snoring, repetitive coughing, footsteps, a baby crying and teeth sucking. The researchers also looked at the impact of the sounds, emotional responses to them, the intensity of the responses, and whether they blamed the noisemaker. From their answers they were given an overall score.

The results show almost one in five people (18.4 percent) experience misophonia to a level where it causes significant burden in terms of distress and impact. The prevalence and severity of misophonia is similar in men and women and tends to be less severe as people get older.

For some, escape from traumatizing sounds was nearly impossible.

Triggered by the Sound Of Normal Breathing

Many of the sounds frequently reported as triggers in those with misophonia also irritated the general cohort. Participants frequently cited noisy chewing, slurping, snoring and loud breathing. However, the types of triggers and reactions were different in those with the condition.

Sufferers were more likely to be triggered by seemingly mundane sounds such as normal breathing or swallowing and to have excessive reactions like anger or panic.

Senior author Dr. Jane Gregory explained, saying, “The experience of misophonia is more than just being annoyed by a sound. Misophonia can cause feelings of helplessness and being trapped when people can’t get away from an unpleasant sound.

“Often those with misophonia feel bad about themselves for reacting the way they do, especially when they are responding to sounds made by loved ones. More research is needed to understand what causes misophonia and how we can help those people whose symptoms disrupt their day to day lives.”

A Strong Sense of Panic

One sufferer, Claire Cisotti, spoke about the impact misophonia has on her life.

“At the first sound of crunching my heart rate will escalate, I’ll find it difficult to breathe properly, and a strong sense of panic starts to rise up through my body. The noise becomes all-consuming, and it fills my head so I just can’t think properly.

“My daily train ride to and from work fills me with fear…because I know I’m going to have to endure the living hell of walking through successive carriages of slurpers, and munchers until I can find a place to sit in peace.

“Crunching, lip smacking, packet rustling and glugging are, to me, like nails being dragged down a blackboard, the ear-splitting whine of a dentist’s drill, or a highly distressed baby’s wail.

“These trigger what I can only describe as a visceral reaction that makes me want to either run away or lash out.

What Causes Misophonia?

Misophonia is just beginning to be understood, but researchers believe it’s most likely to develop in the teenage years.

Scientists believe that sufferers have differences in brain structure and activity. For example, you may have a higher number of connections in certain areas of your brain, especially areas that control how you process sounds and manage emotions.

Scientists also believe there’s a genetic link to misophonia. They’ve identified at least one genetic mutation that plays a role in the development of the condition.

What’s more, people with misophonia are more likely than others to also suffer from ADHD, autism, major depressive disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. They may also experience anxiety and hearing loss or other auditory challenges.

How Do You Treat Misophonia?

While there’s currently no cure for misophonia there is treatment.

Doctors recommend seeing a therapist or counselor who can help you identify the triggers as well as ways to minimize or prevent these sounds.

They can also help you manage symptoms by using coping strategies and making lifestyle changes such as using stress relief techniques, earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, or earbuds. If you choose earbuds, then you can listen to something else that will help reduce your ability to hear the triggering sounds. Another helpful strategy is to use a white noise machine.

Best Regards,
The Green Valley Team

Vital Force

Vital Force

boosts immune system function and health of your cells


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