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Bad news if you get irritated by chewing noise

By Iregi Mwenja | Nov 16th 2016 | 3 min read

I am pretty sure your parents told you at least once to please chew with your mouth closed, and I am not about to pick up the responsibility where they left off. However, do you know how much disgust, anger and frustration that you could be causing someone next to you?

Well, people with serious Misophonia get incredibly distressed when they hear the sounds that they hate. Misophonia, a psychiatric disorder occurs when people get extremely distressed from hearing certain sounds. The word “Misophonia” means “hatred of sound,” but it refers to hatred of certain sounds, such as chewing, slurping, or anything one is sensitive to.

Any sound can become a problem to a person with misophonia but most are some kind of background noise. People call the collection of sounds that they are sensitive to as their trigger set. It is possible to add to one’s trigger set over time.

Exposure to a trigger sound elicits an immediate negative emotional response from a person with sound sensitivities. The response can range from moderate discomfort to acute annoyance or go all the way up to full-fledged rage and panic. Fight or flight reactions can occur. While experiencing a trigger event, a person may become agitated, defensive or offensive, distance himself or herself from the trigger or possibly act out in some manner.

A person with misophonia does not always have any control over the work environment. A coworker munching on food may be too distracting or could produce a full-fledged panic attack. An environment that will not or cannot accommodate the needs of a sound sensitive person can result in anxiety for the person with misophonia and challenges for supervisory staff.

Sometimes family, friends, co-workers and others under estimate the magnitude of the problem. A person with misophonia is sometimes told to “just try to ignore that sound,” or “you’re just being difficult,” or “don’t let it get to you.” Suggestions like these are not helpful. Moreover, people with misophonia often say that if they could simply choose to ignore their triggers, they would have made that choice a long time ago.

I personally take off from anyone making slurping or chewing noise to save myself form the agony of sitting through such anguish. However, things get worse if a close friend or a family member is the victim. Whenever I try to explain to them how the sound they make affects me, they get defensive closing the window for change to chagrin!

Treatment is done through sound therapy combined with psychological counseling. The sound distracts you from triggers and reduces reactions. Other treatments include talk therapy and antidepressants. At Psychiatric Disability Organization, we have counselors who offer talk therapy. 

Your lifestyle also plays a role. Get regular exercise, plenty of sleep, and manage your stress. You can also wear earplugs and headsets to tune out sounds. Set up quiet areas or safe spots in your home where no one will make the noises that bother you.

So, chew with your mouth closed and drink without slurping, not because you mama told you but to save you relationships and to avoid the embarrassment of people running away from you in a restaurant or at the office.

The Author is mental health and child rights advocate and the Founder/CEO of Psychiatric Disability Organization. He can be reached on: [email protected] Website: http://www.pdokenya.org/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Psychiatricdisability/

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