Author thumbnail Siddhrah Malik  |  Published 21 May 2024  | Updated 03 June 2024  | 4 mins read

Teenager Covering Ears with Hands.

What is Misophonia?

Do you get angry whenever you hear someone chewing? Or perhaps the sound of a pen clicking makes you feel anxious or frustrated? If so, you might have misophonia. Misophonia, also known as Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome, is a condition in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance. There are different types of misophonia which you can learn more about in our Sound Sensitivity guide.


Those with misophonia often find that they are triggered by oral sounds – the noises someone else makes when they eat, breathe, or chew. Other offensive sounds might include keyboard or finger tapping, the sound of windshield wipers, or dogs barking.

Misophonia is usually first identified in childhood or early adolescence and can be caused by a variety of medical disorders.

Sad man looking anxious, depressed, and lonely in his house.

The disorder can range from mild to severe with some people reporting a range of physiologic and emotional responses such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Discomfort
  • The urge to flee
  • Disgust
  • Rage
  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Panic
  • Fear
  • Emotional distress



Experts don’t know for sure what causes misophonia. But it’s thought that it may be due to a combination of different factors such as brain structure differences, health conditions or medications, and family history or genetics.

Some research has shown an unusual link between trigger sounds and how the brain responds while other research has shown that people with ADHD, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, Tourette’s syndrome, and tinnitus can be more susceptible to developing misophonia.


What triggers misophonia?

Each person with misophonia will have different triggers and might react in different ways. Despite this, there are some sounds that a lot of people with the disorder find extremely irritating or triggering. Usually, these are sounds that other people make such as:


  • Knuckle cracking
  • Chewing, slurping, or crunching
  • Heavy breathing
  • Nail biting
  • Sniffling
  • Scratching
  • Throat clearing
  • Keyboard tapping
  • Windscreen wipers
  • Pen clicking


There isn’t currently any definitive test to diagnose misophonia, so many people with misophonia get misdiagnosed with other conditions.

A healthcare expert may be able to recognise the most common symptoms of misophonia by asking you questions about your experience. Based on your answers, they can tell you if you seem to have it. However, that’s not the same as a formal diagnosis.

Obsessed Compulsive Perfectionist With OCD Disorder

Misophonia and mental health

Misophonia can negatively impact your social life. Individuals with misophonia have been known to experience stress due to the anticipation of entering environments where the trigger sounds may present. You may find yourself intentionally avoiding situations such as restaurants or start eating separately from your spouse, family, or roommates if the sound of chewing triggers you, for example. These avoidance behaviours can in turn lead to other mental health conditions such as anxiety, OCD or depression.

Over time, you may also find that you show an emotional response to seeing the source of the trigger sound, e.g. frustration when seeing a friend who may chew loudly during dinner, even though you are not having dinner together.


There is no known cure for misophonia, however, your care provider may be able to help you by introducing coping strategies to help you manage it.

Things like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) therapy – a type of talking therapy that helps you manage and change the way you think and behave towards triggers. Other treatments including coping mechanisms such as using tools to introduce background noise, such as a radio playing, nature sounds, headphones or hearing aids, and setting up quiet areas in your home to escape the noises that bother you are all ways you can help to improve your resilience and your mental health.


Misophonia is a condition where certain sounds can trigger a response in you that might seem irrational to others. It can be stressful and impact your quality of life. Although there is no cure, coping strategies can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life for those affected.


Despite being a brain-based disorder, and having connections to conditions like anxiety, OCD, ADHD and autism, misophonia is not currently classed as a mental illness.

If you’re feeling triggered, there are a few things you can do to help calm yourself.

  • Use noise-cancelling headphones
  • Listen to music, calming sounds, or white noise
  • Distract yourself with a calming mantra or affirmations
  • Politely ask the person making the sound to stop
  • Remove yourself from the situation if possible. 

If you find yourself getting irrationally angry, irritated, or anxious when people around you make noises like chewing, slurping, sniffing, or biting their nails, or if repetitive sounds like ticking clocks, barking dogs, and dripping taps make you feel frustrated, you likely have misophonia. 

It is not a form of autism itself but it can affect people with autism. 

No. Misophonia is a lifelong condition. However you can minimise your triggers and manage you reactions to sounds by using coping strategies and treatment options such as talking therapy. 

There isn’t a lot of research on how prevalent misophonia is but it’s estimated that it affects between 5% and 20% of people.