Do certain sounds drive you up the wall?
Maybe it’s the sound of someone chewing, drinking, fidgeting or sniffing. Or maybe it’s a repetitive sound like someone tapping on a keyboard, clicking their pen, or even breathing loudly. More than just being a pet peeve, do these kinds of sounds trigger an over-the-top reaction in you? If so, you might be one of the many people who suffer from misophonia. A new study in the UK journal PLOS ONE suggests more people than we thought currently suffer from misophonia.
What is misophonia?
Misophonia is a brain abnormality that causes an acute reaction to specific, usually low-volume sounds. Because the condition is poorly understood, misophones struggle to convince others that their problem isn’t a form of mental illness.
Misophonia ranges from mild to severe. Some report a range of physiologic and emotional responses, with accompanying cognitions. Mild reactions include anxiousness, discomfort, disgust or the urge to flee. More severe responses include rage, panic, fear and emotional distress.
How many people have misophonia?
The study in PLOS ONE estimated that at least 18 per cent of people in the study showed symptoms of misophonia that cause a significant burden in their life. That translates to nearly 1 in 5 people – far more common than previously thought.