Monday, October 19, 2015

Sensitivity to loud chewing might be a psychiatric disorder

People who have an extreme aversion to specific noises—most often “mouth sounds” such as chewing or lip-smacking, but also noises such as foot-tapping, pen-clicking or sniffing—suffer from a condition called misophonia. While many people find some everyday sounds annoying, misophonia—in which the sensitivity disrupts a person’s life—may affect up to 20% of the population, researchers say.

There is a current debate among physicians whether it should be a psychiatric disorder. ...

People who have misophonia often have symptoms of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression, although the researchers don't know if one causes the other, the study found. ...

The experts are clear: The person who is annoyed by the sounds is the one who needs to change and learn coping skills. If others accommodate you by changing the way they eat, they are only enabling you. ...

A form of cognitive behavioral therapy, called “exposure and response prevention,” has been shown to be effective for misophonia sufferers. The client is exposed to chewing sounds gradually—first on a tape, then from a stranger in the room and finally from his or her loved one. “After repeated exposure, they see they can tolerate it,” Ms. Wu says.
--Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, on having to live and let live