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Annoyed By The Sound of People Chewing? You Might Have Misophonia

Annoyed By The Sound of People Chewing? You Might Have Misophonia

When considering what it is that makes an individual’s blood boil and why it is they might erupt into a fit of rage occasionally, like Howard Beale in the classic satire film Network (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”), there is one rage catalyst most people will fail to associate as a rational reason to behave entirely irrational.

Misophonia.

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This term literally means “hatred of sound”. The clinical diagnosis deals more specifically with a hatred of naturally occurring human sounds. Experiencing rage due to being cut off in traffic is one thing I think we can all empathize with, but people diagnosed with misophonia are lit into fiery rages from the most subtle of human sounds such as people masticating food, chewing gum, or even simply breathing.

These triggers do not require extreme cases like obnoxiously chomping on food with an open mouth, aggressively smacking on gum, or breathing heavily. Everyday sounds like these, which most people do not even notice, are what send those enduring misophonia into an anxiety-ridden fit of rage. It is worth noting, someone with this diagnosis is generally not bothered by their own human sounds and nor do the sounds of animals eating, licking, or breathing disturb them.

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Symptoms of Misophonia

Symptoms include extreme distress, anger, and anxiety leading to a “fight or flight” scenario, in which someone experiencing misophonia will likely have to leave certain settings or face the threat of erupting into a spontaneous rage among friends or strangers, whom would not understand the sudden volatile reaction they would receive for simply biting into a carrot or crunching a potato chip. There is little middle ground, or coping,  when these encounters happen. Here are some testimonials of individuals experiencing misophonia:

  • A married couple who eats their meals in separate rooms of the house they share because the wife cannot bear the sound of her husband eating.
  • Another married couple with a husband who attests that if he and his wife pick up fast food and eat in their car then he has to turn the radio up until all of his wife’s chewing sounds are completely drowned out, leaving them unable to even converse between bites.
  • One account describes a college student suffering from misophonia who briefly details one of her experiences of attending class by explaining, “Immediately after hearing one of my triggers, I become enraged. I become very hot, tingly, and anxious.”
  • Another college student claims assorted mouth noises, sniffling, and gum chewing make her chest tighten and her heart pound. She claims, “This condition has caused me to lose friends and has caused numerous fights.”

A Controversial Condition

Misophonia became an official psychiatric disorder recently when an Amsterdam based research team arrived at the diagnostic classification. It is a controversial condition, little is understood about it, and there is no known cure for it. However, many researchers concur misophonia is linked to other psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression.

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Research has concluded that misophonia generally surfaces during adolescence and continues throughout adulthood. While there is no known cure, those experiencing the condition will often wear earplugs, headphones, or make use of anything that will create noise to overcome the subtle sounds that make their blood boil.

Misophonia is most commonly associated with human chewing but also includes severe aggravation towards other actions like whistling, humming, footsteps, tapping objects rhythmically, coughing, sniffling, and throat clearing.

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So, the next time you are in the break room at work eating lunch with coworkers and you find yourself clenching your fists with white knuckles, face reddening, and giving a threatening glare to the person across from you, please try to remain calm, put down the fork, and try to catch your breath. You might have misophonia and no humanly generated sound is too quiet for its quirky, irate sensibilities.

Featured photo credit: Neil Guegan/cultura/Corbis via nymag.com

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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