Help! Every Sound I Hear Makes Me Anxious and Irritable
Dear Sounding Off,
I find myself filled with compassion for you. It sounds like so many of the common, everyday sounds of life are extraordinarily uncomfortable for you. I imagine it makes engaging with the world around you nearly impossible. It must feel very limiting for you. I hope that you can find this compassion for yourself, too.
While I certainly cannot make a diagnosis from your brief note (nor is this my expertise), it sounds like you could be describing a condition called misophonia—a sound sensitivity disorder. It is not currently listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) or International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), but it has recently been getting attention in the mainstream media and has therefore gained some exposure. There is a website, www.misophonia.com, that has news and information about the condition plus a support forum where you can connect with others.
Whether you are dealing with misophonia or not, I would recommend that you consider partnering with a therapist for support.
Whether you are dealing with misophonia or not, I would recommend that you consider partnering with a therapist for support. It certainly sounds like this is causing you considerable stress and anxiety. You mention that the sound of your best friend’s voice immediately angers you and that your parents think you are “fussy” and “need to get over it.” It sounds like your sensitivity to sound is also having a significant impact on your relationships. Working with a therapist will enable you to explore all of the ways you are impacted by this sensitivity to sound, and to develop some strategies for coping with them.
Whatever steps you take to address this, I hope you do seek out help. You mention sometimes feeling like a “b*tch” and wanting to “grow out of this.” These sentiments suggest you feel your sensitivity is a character flaw rather than acknowledging that you might well be dealing with a condition (misophonia). Regardless of the cause, you are struggling. Being kind and compassionate with yourself will get you much further than being punitive.
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LannaJanuary 8th, 2016 at 1:39 PM
This is my daughter to a tee.
The sound that others make when they chew or even just normal breathing drives her mad
BlakelyJanuary 9th, 2016 at 10:06 AM
This is probably how someone with autism feels but is neevr quite able to pout it into words. Sensory overload?
RosemaryJanuary 10th, 2016 at 11:11 PM
Hi, I empathise with your pain. I can relate to what your going through. There was a time when I was experiencing something similar after being under stress for a long period of time. I became highly strung and irritable. I would even react to the sound tracks of cartoons when my kids were watching them in the house. To deal with this I took a time out. Listening to spiritual music, practicing positive thinking, complementing myself for small achievements. Try some quiet time and talk to yourself more. Take time to walk talk to good friends and smell the roses outdoors. I wish you speedy recovery
TalithaJanuary 12th, 2016 at 11:20 AM
I suppose that ear plugs are not a feasible option all the time but I do sleep with them in because my husband’s snoring drives me to the brink sometimes.
LyndaJanuary 12th, 2016 at 12:42 PM
Can this be the same for smells? My husband is overly sensitive with smells and it drives himself to a fit sometimes.
TBJanuary 17th, 2016 at 6:42 PM
Please take a moment to read about this. I hope it helps.
The Highly Sensitive Person
tinaJanuary 19th, 2016 at 10:41 AM
This must make every day miserable for you!
ChrisOctober 3rd, 2018 at 12:15 AM
I have very similar problem but for me it’s mostly music and traffic noise. after a lot of searching I finally happened to be watching a TED talk about depression and this was brought up as a rare but real side effect. It never crossed my mind as a possible cause as most would say music helps not hurts. I even like music but still find myself very irritated very quickly no matter what kind of music it is. If you suffer from depression as I do then this may be it. Depression is incredibly variable and can affect us in ways that aren’t so obvious and many don’t even realize that they are depressed. Just something to think about and look into. I suspect there are multiple reasons besides depression that people have these kinds of issues.
Tina MMarch 18th, 2020 at 6:32 PM
This is me! I hate hearing people chew their food, smack, crack, and pop their gum, loud stereos, all kinds of noises just make me so angry I want to scream and/or cry. I don’t understand it. I don’t like it, but it’s just how it is. I wish I could figure out what’s wrong with me and do something to fix it. I hate being so bothered by noises that everyone else can deal with.
MariaGNovember 10th, 2020 at 4:39 AM
I feel the same way. The sounds around me make me extremely anxious and uncomfortable. It is painful. Sounds of people in my house, Talking, eating sounds, brushing their teeth, walking, sleeping noises, music, moving around the house. the tv shows, the clanging in the kitchen while they are cooking, etc.
India KingMay 9th, 2021 at 6:10 AM
I completely understand how you feel. I have ADHD and one thing I have to live with is being hypersensitive to the littlest things and seriously it drives me crazy most days! I try to use noise cancelling earphones in order to drown out most sounds, especially when people are talking loudly or moving around too much. Feeling overstimulated is really hard to avoid at work, school, and even home :(
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