Small Sounds, Strong Reaction – Misophonia and ADHD

What is Misophonia?

At times, we can all be annoyed by certain small, routine sounds in our environment. But for individuals with misophonia, the reactions to such noises can be intense.

Misophonia (literally “hatred of sound”) is a condition where certain sounds provoke an extreme emotional reaction. This includes sounds such as someone chewing, clinking a metal spoon on a cup or plate, yawning, or even breathing. These types of sounds can trigger everything from disgust to anxiety to anger.

While research into misophonia is still in its early stages, studies have shown the existence of unusual links between the anterior insular cortex and the brain network used retrieve to memories. This connection suggests unpleasant memories could also play a part in misophonia. In addition to irregular brain connections, there is evidence to suggest people with misophonia may have larger amygdala volume which could help explain their exaggerated response to sound.

Misophonia and ADHD

Misophonia is often an ADHD comorbidity. Individuals with ADHD frequently have a hypersensitivity to environmental stimuli – sights, smells and sounds.

When they are unable to filter and inhibit their responses to incoming stimuli, everything becomes a distraction. This, combined with difficulty regulating their emotional response to such stimuli, can lead to a strong reaction.

Behavior science explains this physiological reaction as a reflex behavior that has been acquired or developed by pairing the sound with a distressed physiological condition like anxiety or stress. When distress and the sound occur simultaneously, it creates neurological wiring in the brain that causes the misophonia reaction when the sound is heard again.

Treatments for Misophonia

Currently, there exists no proven cure for misophonia. The treatment options available today include:

  • Medications – The two most common being Lyrica and Klonopin.
  • Psychological treatments – This ranges from: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness training, hypnosis, and meditation.
  • Physical treatments – have helped some people: acoustic therapies; alpha-stim; chiropractic; and EMDR.
  • Lifestyle modifications –  These options include rigorous exercise, getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and wearing sound protection gear.

Misophonia should be taken seriously. If you think you might have it, you should get treatment.



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