Monday, 14 April 2014

Misophonia or hyper sensitivity to sound.

Misophonia is something which I have been learning about just recently as it has effected me  to some degree but is also affecting several friends of mine (particularly those that also have received a diagnoses of depression).

 When I was extremely poorly after the birth of my second child and before I was diagnosed with Postnatal depression, I started to feel extremely angry and unhappy when certain noises presented themselves. At first it was a mild irritation which then became more serious and the slightest noise would leave me feeling edgy and agitated to the point that I would have to cover my ears. Since I have been researching for my book, this phenomenon has cropped up time and time again, particularly with women in the reproductive years, although it can present itself at any time.

The sounds which are the most disturbing to the sufferer are chewing,sniffing, tapping and even breathing. There are many other sounds which can create a feeling of incessant anger and are so disturbing they can have a catastrophic effect on the sufferer and even destroy relationships. It somehow creates a feeling of intolerance and rage which is obviously very distressing and can even become physically painful.

From what I can gather there is no known cure for Misophonia, however several forums and helpful sites are now springing up which offer support for the sufferer and those who simply don't understand how distressing sound irritation can be. Coincidentally, I have noticed that the first symptoms show themselves around puberty when the hormonal changes are paramount. Saying that, from what I can gather no single cause can be found for Misophonia which makes it all the more unpleasant. I hope in time that will change and there will be more help available and even a cure which will help people who suffer from this horrible condition.

Blessings as always. Suzi


  1. As an extremely private person, I'm not usually one to contribute to blogs, preferring to generally make my own way with any problems. However, seeing Suzi's post about Misophonia made me feel obliged to comment. If my response comforts anyone who suffers from Misophonia, allowing them to know that they are not alone, then I have done something right. I have yet to meet another true Misophonic (is that what we are called?!) and this really is a good thing... I can't imagine anything worse than being friends with a fellow sufferer, how would we go out for dinner together??
    I have suffered from Misophonia since I was about 8 years old. My first recollection of this miserable affliction was feeling insanely angry listening to my Dad, who I adored more than anything, chewing a Quality Street toffee on my hospital bed. I couldn't keep my disgust to myself and even at that tender age I couldn't help but make my feelings more than clear. My parents must have thought it very odd and perhaps put it down to a one off as I was so ill but it quickly spiralled into something much much more.
    I dreaded sitting around the dinner table, particularly with my two sets of grandparents who were regular visitors. I remember fighting with my brother at Christmas about who was going to sit next to, or worse, opposite the loudest diner of the four. Unlike him, this wasn't a laughable 'haaa haa, arent they gross!' situation for me. It was my first true experience of genuine 'fight or flight' adrenaline. A horrible scary feeling that has become an all too familiar daily ordeal. Cont.

  2. Cont.
    By the time I hit my teens I had more triggers than I care to remember. However, I have to, as unfortunately they have stayed with me and multiplied to date. I prefer not to list my triggers as a) they are too numerous to list and b) it is one of the worst things you can do for a reader who may be suffering from Misophonia. It just highlights new sounds which may begin to upset them as well. Not at all helpful! What I can say is that waiting rooms or public transport journeys really are a terrifying prospect for me. I wore ear plugs throughout all of my exams for goodness sake! I am educated to a high level yet have dismissed various career choices knowing I simply would not be able to be in such close proximity to people who would omit normal bodily sounds making me want to either be sick or run for the hills. I struggle to mask my horror and disgust at the poor person who has dared to sniff in earshot of me. I wouldn't make a very good clinician, which sadly has always been my major passion... human biology. How ironic.
    I have never had any support in trying to cope with my Misophonia. I have been told I have a 'chip on my shoulder' or that I'm just a nasty person by my own family. I think people think I fancy myself as 'perfect' and 'above' other people if I ever outwardly show my displeasure. They wouldn't feel like that if they had to live with finding their own chewing insanely revolting... yet I wouldn't wish Misophonia on my worst enemy. It is excruciatingly lonely. It feels like a iron cage that I know I will never ever be free from. It affects my closest relationships, people that I love more than anything suffer along with me. Cont.

  3. However, I am fortunate enough to have met the man of my dreams who loves me and accepts that I suffer from Misophonia, albeit not easy. At first he used to get angry if I had to sometimes sleep in a different room because I just couldn't block out his breathing... now we laugh as I insert my industrial quality earplugs just before I go to sleep. I think he has come to understand that in our situation it really is the stereotypical "It's not you, it's me"! Luckily for me he has also been raised as a gentleman and has impeccable table manners... well impeccable manners in general, i.e. no vomit inducing sniff n spits into the bathroom sink of a morning - I simply couldn't cope. He tries to help me as much as he can within reason and luckily he makes me want to be a nicer person, so I try and think before I inadvertently react rudely to somebody omitting a noise that offends me. We also have two, soon to be three, children together and neither of us want them to suffer from Misophonia and we will do anything we can to spot the signs early enough to try and get help. Sadly we wont be able to stop it happening though as Misophonia is quite often genetic. And also sadly there is no evidence to suggest that any cognitive or counselling therapies work.
    I don't believe Misophonia only affects women, although I definitely think there is some weight in the idea that hormones and stress are closely linked to very acute phases of sound sensitivity. I am currently 7 months pregnant and my Misophonia has become much worse. It has become more pronounced with each pregnancy. Misophonia is a condition which is caused by the neurological 'set up' between your ears and your 'limbic system' which is the memory and emotion aspects of your brain. Simplified, you hear a trigger sound that upsets you, and your brain reacts with negative emotion, because it has done before. Now your limbic system is waiting for it to happen again, heightening your stress levels beyond belief, pumping your adrenaline in preparation to run away i.e. fight or flight. I believe you can try and retrain this link to some degree and I believe there are probably coping mechanisms out there that I am yet to find. Possibly the best, and shortest, book I have read on the subject is 'How I Solved My Sound Sensitivity Problem' by Joey Lott. He is practical and gives simple exercises you can practice which might just help you. At the moment this is simply beyond me, I am suffering from my Misophonia so badly... but once I've had my baby I will be on a mission to make myself better, for the sake of my perfect little family, because I sure as hell don't want them to feel the misery I often do.

  4. Yet another trait that fits my illness!!!

  5. What specialist do you go to to get officially diagnosed?

    I have looked into otologists / neurotologists, psychiatrists, endocrinologists, neurologists, audiologists.. even my primary medical doctor does not know about misophonia.

    I highly believe hormone change has a huge factor to do with the onset of misophonia / hyper sensitivity.

    Around the age of 8 years old I had to have growth hormone therapy. Things started to bother me immensely; chalk sounds, erasers, pencils, styrofoam, cardboard, box cutter sounds etc.. and much more. But also there were and are texture issues I have. Soft surfaces bother me as do dusty ones but there's also the factor that it sounds like OCD of sorts or Aspergers. So many different things for a range of similarities. If you have any suggestions of who to get diagnosed by (specialists) I'm highly interested in solving my issues.

  6. Hi Andrea. If you send me your email address I will try to send you some details of a Professor at Birmingham who may be able to help you. Thank you so much for contacting me. I will help you if I can, Suzi .AKA Caroline Church x

  7. Hi I feel the same way as all the comments before me. I have always been noise sensitive since the age of 11... And in the last few years it's got so much worse I'm struggling to function in my everyday life.... I always have earplugs in and if I happen to go to a resteraunt with out them i usually have to make some excuses.... I do think that hormones do have an impact. Can you email me anyone that can help......... Thanks so much. Carol

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