What it is: Misophonia is a condition characterized by reduced tolerance to specific sounds or associated stimuli (e.g., visuals associated with sounds such as chewing). Individuals with misophonia report intense physiological (e.g., increased heart rate, muscle tension) and emotional (most often anger and anxiety) responses to specific sounds. They report that a wide array of sounds can produce misophonic reactions, with the most common sounds being eating and breathing-related noises. While not formally recognized as a medical or psychiatric diagnosis, this condition can cause a great deal of distress and impairment: people with misophonia are often embarrassed by their reactions, find themselves avoiding situations where they believe they may encounter misophonic sounds, or cope in ways that are not helpful in the long-term (e.g., yelling at people to stop making noises).
Associated Concerns: Misophonia is a newly described condition in the medical literature and research about it is still emerging. Based on what we know so far, misophonia can co-occur with almost any other mental health problem, including (but not limited to) anxiety, mood, obsessive-compulsive, eating, trauma-related, and personality disorders. However, some individuals with misophonia report they have no additional mental health concerns.
Evidence Based Treatments offered: Early research suggests CBT can be helpful for people with misophonia. Many individuals with this condition report that the strong emotions associated with misophonic sounds and their responses to those sounds are causing problems in their everyday lives. When this is the case, we recommend using evidence-based principles of change to address these problems with emotion functioning. At TAP, Dr. Robbins uses CBT and the Unified Protocol (UP) to help adults with misophonia.
We also know that in youth with misophonia, helping families understand this disorder and how to most effectively respond can be helpful to all. At TAP, Dr. Zachary leads the In Tune Parenting Group for caregivers of youth with misophonia.
To learn more about misophonia, check out relevant blog post(s): 4 Questions about Misophonia with Dr. Robbins.