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Treatment for Misophonia?

gclsportsgclsports Registered User Posts: 490 Member
I am pretty sure S20 has misophonia. A lot of sounds and repetitive motions people drive him really bonkers - things like a heavy sigh, chew noises, a pen clicking, someone jiggling a knee, tapping a finger on a steering wheel, etc. Whatever triggers him is usually something the other person isn't even aware they're doing, and sometimes can't help doing. His usual means of dealing with a trigger is to ask the person to stop (whether he does that depends on who the person is and if he thinks the person is likely to cooperate) or to remove himself from the situation. But removing himself is not always a good option for the classroom or other places he has to be, and it's to a point now that it is impacting him socially. At home, the other three of us do the best we can to avoid what we know triggers S20, but there always seems to be some new trigger. I know it's frustrating for S20 to deal with sounds that seem magnified to him. But it's also frustrating (and hard to relax) when you're constantly worried about doing something that might bother someone else. And if that's how we feel, I am really worried about what will happen in a few years when he has a college roommate.

Does anyone have experience with treatment for misophonia? If so, did you start with a doctor or a psychologist? (I am hoping for a doctor because I know from previous experience S20 will resist treatment with a psychologist - took him previously for irrational fears of dogs, birds, insects, etc. and he just would not participate in the therapy). What is the treatment like, and do you think it helped?

Appreciate any thoughts.

Replies to: Treatment for Misophonia?

  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 13,890 Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Physician here. I can understand his bias so I would get him plugged into the system through his/your family physician. Primary care doctors are likely to know people for referrals. If a physician makes the psychologist referral it may be more palatable. I had never heard of this disorder but it seems likely a nondrug treatment through a psychologist to get rid of a phobia unless it is a symptom of a larger overlying problem.

    Good idea to get treatment since it is impacting his life.
  • Proud MaryProud Mary Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
    I have misophonia. I've never sought treatment. (To be honest, I never knew this was an actual thing until fairly recently. My mom just thought I was a crank when I complained about my brothers' chewing, etc. when I was a kid and I just believed that.)

    My coping mechanisms to this day sound like what your son does. I have a law degree and a PhD so you CAN do school with this.

    That said, now that we know it is a condition, I'd suggest he and you consult his primary care physician. Bring literature about this with you because it's likely he/she may not be familiar with misophonia.

    And in the meantime, I suggest ear plugs.

    Good luck!!
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,608 Senior Member
    This is not a phobia. It is an actual physical hypersensitivity, which is greatly aggravated in anxious situations. The treatment is specialized and needs to be done by someone who really understands it.

    Note audiologists, hypnotists, psychologists and other providers can all contribute.

    Try to avoid those who treat this exclusively like a mental illness, though medications used for anxiety and OCD may help during times of exacerbation.

    Meditation, yoga, tai chi, Reiki, EMDR may all help too.

    Sounds can trigger violent urges (that people with this don't act on) and leaving the room is a common strategy.

    I believe this cannot be entirely eliminated but it can be greatly reduced or limited to times of stress, with proper treatment.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 39,251 Super Moderator
    My 22-year-old son has this, fairly severely. At the dinner table during high school, he would literally plug one ear with a finger and attempt to plug his other ear with his shoulder!! My husband and I would get really annoyed with him until we learned about misophonia. Then we let him eat in a different room. It is much worse for him around family members for some reason. Sometimes he would come into our home office about something and say, "MOM!! Can you quit drinking coffee???" Uh, no, it's MY office! Even though I understood he had an actual physical condition, it was still very difficult living with him.

    Sounds don't bother him as much when they're made by his friends or co-workers. I've read that that is a common experience.
  • gclsportsgclsports Registered User Posts: 490 Member
    Thanks everyone! I appreciate all of your perspectives and thoughts about treatment. Some of your examples are very much like what we are experiencing. And I didn't think about the connection to stress or anxiety. When I picked him up from school today, it looked to me as though he'd had a bad day, which he of course denied. But with that connection, it makes sense that the misophonia was especially bad this afternoon. Thanks again everyone.
  • MACmiracleMACmiracle Registered User Posts: 1,519 Senior Member
    I think you might be talking about hyperacusis.

    First, is this new or is it something your S has always dealt with?

    If it has developed in anyway, you may may want to go to an ENT for an evaluation because this can occur as the result of a medical issue.

    If you research, you will find various causes from infection to medication side-effect. The only person I knew who developed it developed it as a result of Lyme Disease.

    So if it's wasn't there before but is now, I recommend seeing an ENT.

    If it has been there all along, are there any other sensory processing difficulties, like problems finding comfortable clothes or issues with food textures?

    If he has always had it, I'd try to find a pediatric occupational therapist who works with kids with sensory processing disorder, which I admit might not be easy if your D's is grown.

    We learned of a treatment many years ago from an occupational therapist that involved a specialized sound therapy perhaps similar to Therapeutic Listening but I can't remember the specific name. We decided not pursue it, though.

    I once knew a family who did the same or a similar treatment with their son and they found it very helpful. He was severely impacted by his sound sensitivity and they found the therapy life changing.

    My H and one of my kids selectively use earplugs. I have a friend who used earplugs a lot and found it made her more sensitive, so that's something to be careful about.

    A lot of sensory integration problems are aggravated by stress and anxiety. And sometimes it's hard to sort out if the sensitivity is causing the anxiety or the anxiety is aggravating the sensitivity. It's just a vicious circle.

    This is absolutely a physical problem so I would not seek the help of a psychologist except to help with the anxiety part.

    I would probably want a full medical work up in any case to check for nutritional deficiencies, Lyme Disease, or anything else that could cause it, unless he has had it forever.m, because an ENT might be the most familiar with medical treatments but probably won't be as helpful if it's a developmental thing.

  • AmyBeth68AmyBeth68 Registered User Posts: 609 Member
    @gclsports my daughter, current Junior in college, has pretty severe misophonia and has had it all her life (as far as we can tell). She has learned to deal with it primarily through vocalizing to people when they are doing something that triggers her. However, I should say her trigger is fairly simple in that it is primarily the sound of a metal utensil on a plate (she calls it scraping). Basically the normal sounds of people eating with utensils on ceramic, glass etc plates. @MaineLonghorn my daughter has done the ear plugging/shoulder move forever...originally I thought she was just being an overly dramatic child and I too was annoyed with her until we realized it caused her severe anger/anxiety/pain. Some other triggers are milder like the sound of someone scratching their skin or the sound of pen clicking/tapping. She's been able to tune out the lesser triggers in school/classes and she truly had no issues outside of not being able to take tap dance class (discordant tapping drove her crazy when she was a small child). However, the dining hall has been an issue for her but all her friend group knows her triggers and try their best to eat "quietly" and apologize profusely when they accidentally scrape. My father actually eats with a plastic fork when he's around her because his hearing isn't good and he doesn't know when he's doing it LOL!

    As for options in addition to the treatment above, my daughter has always had a single due to her sensitivity issues and that is a possibility to discuss with college housing administration once your child has chosen a school. I know she has to live in a world full of people making noises, but it's nice she has a place to go for silence when she needs it.

    @compmom thanks for the resources, I will pass them along to my daughter. It might be something for us to investigate together.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 39,251 Super Moderator
    @AmyBeth68, I totally understand the feeling of walking on eggshells. I swear, I try to eat as silently as possible when S is around, but it still annoys me. It's also made ME a little oversensitive when I'm eating with other people - sometimes I think, "Wow, they really do slurp when they eat soup!" I hope your daughter has some luck getting help. I should ask S how it's been for him lately.
  • gclsportsgclsports Registered User Posts: 490 Member
    Thanks again everyone! @MACmiracle My S has had this forever, but it seems more aggravated right now. He also has anxiety, mild sensory issues, ADHD and nonverbal learning disability. A year or so ago, I bought him some nice headphones that he uses very frequently, and that does seem to help a bit. I worry sometimes that this will be isolating for him if he doesn't get some control over it. @compmom I don't doubt that this is sometimes causing S to want to hit the person making the noise. Sometimes when he is particularly bothered by a noise or repetitive motion, the look on his face is pure anger. I don't think he would ever act on that because it does seem like he is aware of what's going on and removes himself pretty quickly. @amybeth68 and @mainelonghorn, the feeling of walking on eggshells is the perfect way to describe what it's like in the house.
  • surfcitysurfcity Registered User Posts: 2,534 Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Wow, it is so wonderful to hear people discussing misophonia outside of a miso support group!

    My D suffers from this quite severely, to the point where she had to finish HS online. She also has some OCD and anxiety, and depression and I think they are all related or they all compound one another.

    She has noise-cancelling headphones and does not eat with us unless we are eating something soft. She is a freshman in college and has a single which is the only way she could dorm I believe. She says the dining hall is okay because there is so much ambient noise. But she has also developed social anxiety about eating in front of others, because SHE does not like to see people eat. So she only eats in her room. So while yes, misophonia is absolutely a physical condition, it can impact or be exacerbated by mental conditions too.

    There is no real treatment, just coping. I would check out Tom Dozier and make sure you want to use his approach. His treatment consists of exposure therapy and that is very controversial in the miso community. Exposure will work for anxieties but it often ratchets up miso symptoms.

    My D just got accommodations for college and can leave a classroom if she absolutely needs to. Her friends are very good about not eating in front of her but we all forget sooner or later. This condition is SO isolating.
  • MACmiracleMACmiracle Registered User Posts: 1,519 Senior Member
    @gclsports , Based on everything you've said, I personally like the idea of consulting an OT. It seems like he has developed good coping methods but he with the sensory stuff and NLD in the picture, an OT might be something to try because it's part of the bigger picture. Just my opinion.

    Two of my kids who have had cognitive testing have an NLD profile but not NLD. We have sensory issues, too.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,608 Senior Member
    I hate to say this on a college forum, but senior year of high school can be a hard year for misophonia with all the stress and coming transition. On the other hand, it can lessen a bit once that transition passes. at least for some. And it sounds like people have gotten some accommodations, which is great, as long as the isolation is not too much.

    It would be interesting to look into misophonia support groups....

    This might sound strange but sometimes we do find humor in this. There have been times when we fled an area of a café or restaurant, with some REAL slurping going on . We end up laughing because an extreme slurper is so far beyond the threshold of my kid's tolerance that it actually strikes us as funny.

    Oddly, I myself actually enjoy the sound of people eating. I find it oddly lulling.
  • momtogirls2momtogirls2 Registered User Posts: 732 Member
    edited September 2017
    My daughter is a senior in high school. She has some sensory issues especially sound. In her case she does have some hearing loss and we've been told that sometimes different sounds can hurt when you have some hearing loss. DD can't stand the sound of snoring or hearing someone breathe. She doesn't like hearing sounds of eating either. In her case Iooking back I've noticed how much she has improved over the years however when she is tired it isn't great. She has noise blocking headphones she likes to wear to sleep and will bring them places such as on car rides when she thinks her younger sister may sleep. She does block her ears at times.

    My daughter is in her 2nd year of doing dual enrollment. I think it helps a lot. I'm thinking not having to constantly go from class to class and in the cafeteria daily has helped her to not has as much constant sound exposure.
  • JeanJeanieJeanJeanie Registered User Posts: 140 Junior Member
    Wow, something I can actually comment on with deep personal experience!

    First, know that I'm normally an easy-going person, but I become nearly homicidal over chewing sounds. Earplugs (fitted properly) have been a godsend for me. I have earplugs tucked in all my pockets in case I get stuck in a checkout line next to a (ugh) gum snapper, etc.

    One thing that's really helped me survive a variety of situations, including family meals: the Relax Melodies app that allows me to fill my ears with soothing sounds of nature (river, rain, wind...you get to mix and match as you wish). I keep the volume to just high enough so it masks most of the chewing sounds but not so loud that I can't follow the conversation (though granted, I sometimes have to ask my family member to repeat themselves--not always appreciated but oh well, better than biting their heads off over those chewing sounds!).

    I've found this app to be useful in so many situations, including the library (where people seem to sniff constantly!) I highly recommend as a study aid!

    BTW, my misophonia seemed to come on all of a sudden when I was around 9 years old. My older sister pointed out my dear father's chewing (he had lost many teeth in WW2 and had to wear permanent bridges) and this just freaked me out and suddenly I couldn't bear being anywhere near him when he ate. It was a terrible thing as I so loved my dear dad! :( Over the years, I started becoming unbearably annoyed by popcorn chewers, gum snappers, teeth grinders, static on the radio, teeth biting silverware (ugh!!), utensils scraping dishes, leaf blowers....oh boy.

    I was SO relieved when I finally discovered there were many others who felt this way. At least I don't feel such a freak!
This discussion has been closed.