Misophobia: what is it?

If you find certain noises completely unbearable then it could mean you have misophobia. Read on to find out what it is and what treatments can help you.

What is it?

Misophobia relates to mundane noises such as chewing, pen tapping or scratching. Sometimes these noises can be a little uncomfortable and that’s normal. But with misophobia, specific noises can be unbearable. This hypersensitivity can make you extremely anxious and produce severe responses. You might have to leave the room, put your hands over your ears or you might become intensely irritable. This is usually accompanied by anxiety and other mental health issues.


Researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes misophobia, but there are certain conditions which are associated with it. Anxiety, Tourette syndrome and tinnitus all are often accompanied by misophobia. However, there is research to suggest that it’s a condition in itself rather than a symptom of another issue. Researchers have found that it often emerges during puberty and can run in families.


Symptoms are brought on when a sound triggers you. This can lead to rage and disgust initially. However, a triggering noise can also bring on anxiety and a sense of panic. Naturally, when you’re feeling extremely anxious, your chest can feel tight and it can upset your stomach too.


Diagnosis is mainly based on how you’re feeling given that there won’t be physical evidence. Working with an audiologist can help with this process though.


There’s no simple cure for misophobia, but there are treatments that can alleviate the symptoms. One option is tinnitus retraining therapy – this is especially useful if your symptoms are accompanied by tinnitus. This therapy gradually exposed you to difficult noises over a period of six months. The goal is that you’ll eventually learn to tolerate and accept the noises that trigger you.

Alternatively, you could try counter conditioning. This is where you try and pair triggering noises with something that makes you happy – perhaps a memory or a song. The idea is that you’ll slowly tolerate the noise due to the memories associated with it.

There are also ways of calming yourself if you find that you’re in a triggering situation. You can try using noise cancelling headphones on public transport. Or you could politely ask the person making the noise to stop. Plus, you can learn a calming mantra to distract yourself when you’re in a situation you can’t escape from.

If you suspect that you’re suffering from misophobia or a hearing loss issue then you should get medical help. By booking a five-minute online hearing test you can begin your journey towards regaining your quality of life.

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