How to Get Relief from Misophonia

Chewing. Lip smacking. Pen clicking. Gum snapping. These are sounds that we encounter in our everyday life but usually we pay them no mind. However, to some people these sounds are so unbearable that the only foreseeable reaction is one of anger, rage, spiked anxiety or even perhaps self-harm.

Misophonia, also known as 4S or Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome, occurs in approximately 60% of tinnitus patients and is considered another form of decreased sound tolerance. Unlike hyperacusis, people with misophonia interpret these trigger noises based on the specific patterns or meaning of the sound rather than volume alone. A person with misophonia may not exhibit any signs of reduced sound tolerance to loud sounds but rather may react negatively to very specific low-level sounds such as those mentioned above. Oddly enough, these negative reactions usually develop in response to one person or a small group of people in the misophonic’s immediate environment (i.e. family members or friends). However, when the person with misophonia is responsible for creating this same sound, there is usually no response at all.

How is Misophonia Treated?

The primary goal of therapy is to reduce the functional connections between the emotional brain and the auditory system, thereby weakening the reaction to the trigger sounds. Similar to tinnitus, as these signals become more neutralized the listener’s annoyance and disturbance levels lessen over time.

Sound therapy has been consistently used as an evidence-based approach for remediation of hyperacusis and misophonia. With the introduction of low-level sound into the ears, the listener perceives the trigger noises as less bothersome. This perception allows the listener to be exposed to situations that would have otherwise been provoking.

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