The hardest part of having misophonia is probably getting it diagnosed. If you’re like most misophonia sufferers, you have suffered from it for years but haven’t figured out why, or even that it is a condition. People have told you to stop being so sensitive, and it’s enough to drive you to tears or anger on top of the emotions you feel about the sounds that trigger your fight or flight response.
Once you get diagnosed by a doctor or seek out medical treatment, coping becomes much less difficult and you will finally have medical professionals who listen to you. This alone can be enough to help you greatly in everyday life, as you can tell people about formal diagnoses and treatments.
Misophonia treatment has progressed significantly since the condition was first noted. It was often confused with depression, OCD, anger, control problems, and many more causes of ill health. Now that the cause has been isolated, it is much more effective to treat the root of the problem: the sounds that cause extreme emotional reactions.
Because a large part of this condition is based on the sounds in your environment, it’s tempting to deal with it entirely through sound reduction and additions to what you hear – white noise, for example. This is often a primary treatment and one of the first programs your audiologist will design. Sound therapy can involve mp3 music during stressful times, a white noise generator that sits in your ear like a hearing aid and covers the soft sounds that you dislike, or even earplugs. This is an immediate intervention that helps you live your life, but it isn’t intended for long-term use.
Some people find that using earplugs and such devices for a long time actually sets them back on the path of recovery to full health. This is because this strategy is largely one of avoidance: you’re avoiding being triggered, and thus you can cope more easily, but when the trigger occurs and you can’t resort to avoidance, the annoyance is even greater. This is why sound reduction alone is not an effective misophonia treatment.
Whether or not you have your iPod with you, your mind is the one constant in your mental health. With psychological support and cognitive-behavioral therapy, you can help train your mind to overcome the fight or flight response, or at least be able to cope with it better. The emotional response to the trigger is the other half of misophonia, and treatments revolving around therapy are a good solution.
In conjunction with your audiologist, your psychologist can help design a program to lower your stress, improve your awareness in the moment, and teach healthy emotional outlets. When you find yourself about to yell at a stranger for chewing too loudly, with such support, you might be able to walk away, speak calmly, or even ignore the sound entirely!
The initial reaction will probably still hit you after you have retrained your mind not to seize the moment and run with it, but you may be able to reach a stage where the spark of anger simply dies away and you don’t focus on the sound anymore. This can obviously help many people out whose lifestyles suffer because of misophonia. Treatment can still include sound therapy, of course, but mental training is a longer-term solution.
Successful diagnoses can help make patients’ lives easier, but in the end, it’s the misophonia treatment that really makes a difference in your mental health, happiness, and everyday life. By being brave enough to reach out for help, you can make your life so much easier and help your mind overcome the instinctive triggers that burden everyday life for a misophonia sufferer.