What Is the Treatment for Misophonia?

Misophonia treatment is aimed at the condition misophonia, which involves a negative reaction to sounds such as chewing, tapping, or ticking. Individuals who live with misophonia can experience negative impacts on their day-to-day life, and treatment can help them to better manage negative reactions to specific triggers.

While understanding of and treatment for misophonia remains an area that requires further research, there have been some promising advances made with regard to managing responses to triggering sounds as well as using white noise generators or other ambient noise to reduce discomfort.

If you are a person living with misophonia or think that you may have this condition because of your reactions to certain sounds, then it's important to know that there are treatment options available to you. Be sure to make an appointment with your doctor if you wish to investigate these options further or learn what might work for you.

What Is Misophonia?

Misophonia is named for the Greek word meaning "hatred of sound" and has also been referred to using the term "selective sound sensitivity syndrome." However, misophonia is not currently a recognized diagnosable disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

A person with misophonia experiences a fight-or-flight panic response involving anxiety, panic, and sometimes even rage in response to certain sounds.

For these individuals, the triggering sounds are similar to what it would be like for the everyday person to hear nails on a chalkboard. In general, these triggers are sounds that do not bother other people, or that they barely notice.

For the person with misophonia, emotional reactions to triggers may seem impossible to control and involve anger directed at the person who was making the noise. Afterward, the person may feel bad or guilty for getting mad over a sound, even though at the time their actions seemed justified. For this reason, many people with misophonia suffer effects in their daily lives.

Sensitive to Sound or Misophonia?

If you are a family member of someone who has told you that your chewing bothers them, how do you know if they are just sensitive or have misophonia? Indicators might include a reaction of panic or rage if you do not stop making the noise.

If the person seems unable to control their reaction and then apologetic afterward, this could also be a sign.

Be sure not to brush off sound sensitivity as nothing but a person complaining, especially if it is your child.

It's best to investigate and determine whether misophonia could be the issue so that you can try options such as white noise or CBT and DBT techniques.

Examples of Misophonia Triggers

Below are some examples of sounds that may trigger a reaction in individuals with misophonia. However, remember that triggers vary from person to person, and may even shift for a person over time.

  • Chewing (gum, chips, popcorn)
  • Pen tapping
  • Chomping
  • Slurping
  • Swallowing
  • Throat clearing
  • Lip smacking
  • Sniffling
  • Breathing
  • Nose whistling
  • Snoring
  • Writing
  • Papers rustling
  • Ticking clock
  • Typing
  • Slamming car door
  • Crickets chirping
  • Birds chirping

For some people, there can even be visual triggers that can be as disturbing as listening to auditory triggers. Below are some of these visual triggers that can be problematic:

  • Foot wagging
  • Nose rubbing
  • Hair twirling

Have you experienced any of these sounds or visuals as triggering anxiety or anger? If so, this could be an indication of misophonia. However, it's best to speak to your doctor to rule out other causes. Below we discuss possible treatments for misophonia that may be of help to those who are struggling.

Treatments for Misophonia

Various treatments have been proposed for misophonia and are outlined below. These range from white noise devices all the way up to hypnotherapy.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

Tinnitus is a condition in which a person hears a persistent ringing in the ears that can cause discomfort, agitation, and interfere with daily life.

It's natural then that treatments for tinnitus could possibly be extended to misophonia. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) involves learning to tolerate noise so that it no longer causes the person as much discomfort.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Techniques, and Relaxation

Another treatment that has been applied to misophonia is that of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Through CBT, individuals can learn to better understand their reactions to triggering sounds as well as develop coping strategies to manage these negative reactions. Specifically, this might involve changing negative thinking patterns related to the triggering sounds.

On the other hand, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) involves learning to manage emotions through techniques such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation.

Finally, some people with misophonia may benefit from relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation. This technique involves learning to trigger the relaxation response by practicing alternating tensing and relaxing different parts of the body.

White Noise Devices

Some people respond well to white noise that masks the sounds that trigger misophonia reactions. These can either be ear-level devices that play sounds (e.g., sound of a waterfall or a river) or room-level devices such as a fan or white noise machine. Behind-the-ear sound generators are operated using a remote control and can even be connected to devices such as an iPod.

These are generally obtained through an audiologist and can cost several thousand dollars so it's best to see if your insurance will cover such a device before choosing this option.

On the other hand, an iPod and headphones could achieve the same effect using a sound app to play white noise, which would be considerably less costly.

To make this most effective, the person with misophonia would use headphones that do not completely block outside sounds so that they can still hear over the ambient noise.

In general, the goal of using these types of devices is to add background sounds to your environment and avoid silence, so that triggering sounds are not as loud or blend in with the white noise sounds, making them less intrusive. These options might be best for you if you struggle to manage your reactions by changing your thinking patterns alone.

Medication

There are no medications approved for the treatment of misophonia. However, it's important to discuss medication options with your doctor, as there could be other medications that could help you to manage symptoms.

It's also possible that advances in research will identify new treatments for misophonia, including options that involve medication.

Hypnotherapy, Biofeedback, and Other Therapies

Other types of therapies have also been applied to misophonia such as hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and neurofeedback. If you are interested in these types of therapies, it's best to look into a specialist provider either through your own family doctor or looking for one in the online yellow pages.

How to Find Treatment

Are you struggling with misophonia or negative reactions to sounds? While it might be tempting to think that you can "force" yourself to listen to the sound to make your reaction go away, the truth is that prolonged exposure tends to only make misophonia worse, without the addition of some of the above treatments.

Therefore, if you are living with misophonia, it's important to reach out to your doctor, mental health professional, or alternative medicine provider to learn about options that could help you.

You could also consider visiting the Misophonia Treatment Institute online to learn more about the condition and what can be done to help. This institute includes a treatment provider directory that lists providers based on location as well as profession/specialization.

The Misophonia Treatment Institute also offers assessment, management, training, and treatment remotely by phone or online. They also offer resources for children as far as accommodations at school as well as parenting coaches. If you are a parent struggling to find help for your child living with misophonia, this could be a good option to investigate.

A Word From Verywell

While it may feel frustrating to live with misophonia, there are treatment options available to you. If you've never tried a white noise device, therapy, or other treatments directed at reducing your discomfort, these would be good first choices of options to consider.

Finally, if you are struggling with problematic reactions to noise, know that you are not alone in your experience, no matter how much it might seem like others can't understand what you are going through. Misophonia is a real condition that is not just "all in your head." You deserve compassion and understanding as well as the ability to use devices and accommodations that help you to better cope in daily life.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Misophonia Treatment Institute. Behavioral Therapy.

  • Palumbo DB, Alsalman O, De Ridder D, Song J-J, Vanneste S. Misophonia and Potential Underlying Mechanisms: A Perspective. Front Psychol. 2018;9:953.

  • Potgieter I, MacDonald C, Partridge L, Cima R, Sheldrake J, Hoare DJ. Misophonia: A scoping review of research. J Clin Psychol. 2019;75(7):1203-1218.

  • Schröder AE, Vulink NC, van Loon AJ, Denys DA. Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in misophonia: An open trial. J Affect Disord. 2017;217:289-294.