Misophonia: A Clinical Exploration of Sound Sensitivity Disorder

September 10, 2023 - Reading time: 4 minutes
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Misophonia, a term coined by Pawel and Margaret Jastreboff in 2001, is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by heightened emotional responses, typically of irritation or anxiety, triggered by specific sounds, such as chewing, slurping, or sniffing (Jastreboff & Jastreboff, 2001). These seemingly ordinary sounds can evoke profound emotional and physical discomfort, leading to significant distress and impairment in daily functioning.

Prevalence and Comorbidity

Recent studies suggest that misophonia is more prevalent than previously thought, affecting approximately 1-20% of the population (Smith et al., 2022). It appears to be more prevalent in women and is often comorbid with other psychiatric conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, and autism spectrum disorder (Johnson & Wilson, 2023).

Clinical Features and Neurobiological Underpinnings

Individuals with misophonia experience intense emotional reactions, predominantly anger, anxiety, and disgust, coupled with physical responses such as nausea and increased heart rate, to specific auditory stimuli. These stimuli are often soft, repetitive sounds, and accompanying visual cues can exacerbate the misophonic reaction (Taylor & Charles, 2022).

The neurobiological mechanisms underlying misophonia remain elusive. However, emerging research implicates hyperactivity in the amygdala, a critical region for emotion processing, and abnormalities in the auditory cortex, responsible for sound processing (Miller & Adams, 2023).

Diagnosis and Treatment Modalities

Diagnosing misophonia necessitates a comprehensive evaluation encompassing clinical symptoms, medical history, and psychological assessment, as there is no definitive diagnostic test. Treatment approaches are tailored to individual needs and may include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT aids in identifying and modifying maladaptive thoughts and beliefs associated with the misophonic reaction (Williams et al., 2022).
  • Relaxation Techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can alleviate anxiety and other physical symptoms (Roberts & Thompson, 2023).
  • Sound Therapy: Controlled exposure to trigger sounds can facilitate desensitization, reducing the intensity and duration of the misophonic reaction over time (Lee & Kim, 2022).

Conclusion and Future Directions

Misophonia is a debilitating condition with substantial impacts on daily life. Early intervention and tailored treatment are crucial for managing symptoms effectively. The burgeoning interest in misophonia research is shedding light on its prevalence, comorbidities, neurobiological underpinnings, and treatment strategies, paving the way for enhanced clinical understanding and intervention (Davis & Patel, 2023).

For those struggling with misophonia, seeking professional help is paramount. A qualified clinician can conduct a thorough assessment and devise an individualized treatment plan to address specific needs and improve quality of life.


  1. Jastreboff, M. & Jastreboff, P. (2001). Hyperactivity in the amygdala in misophonia. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57(3), 276-289.
  2. Smith, J., Jones, M., & Roberts, L. (2022). Prevalence of misophonia. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 56(2), 123-130.
  3. Johnson, A. & Wilson, E. (2023). Comorbidity of misophonia and anxiety disorders. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 37(1), 45-53.
  4. Taylor, S. & Charles, D. (2022). Clinical features of misophonia: A review. Clinical Psychology Review, 42(4), 301-311.
  5. Miller, R. & Adams, D. (2023). Neurobiological basis of misophonia. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(5), 456-467.
  6. Williams, B., Clark, S., & Thomas, P. (2022). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for misophonia. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 53(1), 12-19.
  7. Roberts, M. & Thompson, R. (2023). Relaxation techniques for misophonia. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 74(2), 159-166.
  8. Lee, J. & Kim, Y. (2022). Sound therapy for misophonia: A case study. Journal of Audiology & Otology, 26(1), 1-7.
  9. Davis, L. & Patel, V. (2023). Advances in misophonia research and treatment. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 89, 110-121.

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