What Does it Mean if You’re Sensitive to Sounds?

What Does it Mean if You’re Sensitive to Sounds?

What Does it Mean if You’re Sensitive to Sounds?

Just like we all have slightly different pain tolerance, we might be more or less sensitive to certain sounds. But if this sensitivity makes daily life difficult because noise causes pain or anxiety, it might be a symptom of a mental health disorder.

Noise Sensitivity and Related Disorders

  • Autism – Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder but it commonly occurs in combination with anxiety and depression. One of the main symptoms of autism is having sensory issues that not only include sensitivity to noise but also sensitivity to touch and smells. Studies show that there’s greater activity in certain areas of the brain in children with autism, including the amygdala responsible for emotional reactions and cortical areas responsible for processing sensory information, when they’re exposed to noise. [1]
  • PTSD – PTSD stands for posttraumatic-stress disorder that develops after going through a traumatic experience. One of the most common struggles PTSD sufferers face is hypervigilance; it means that they’re constantly on high alert and subconsciously scan the environment for signs of danger. Their startle response is heightened and loud or unexpected noises can be frequently interpreted as a threat. For example, they might jump when someone suddenly knocks on the door. Some noises can often be related to the trauma and trigger the fight-or-flight reaction whenever a sufferer hears them.
  • Misophonia – It’s a relatively new condition and is yet to be recognised as an official diagnosis but the Facebook support group has currently over 25k members who identify with it. Misophonia is defined as hatred of sounds and most sufferers report heightened sensitivity to repetitive sounds such as tapping and eating sounds such as lip smacking and chewing. While noise might cause anxiety, it’s also common for someone with misophonia to feel irrational anger.

Sensitivity to noise might also be heightened due to stress and doesn’t necessarily mean there’s another underlying issue. If certain sounds annoy you more when you’re under pressure but don’t cause extreme anxiety, fear or anger, you probably have nothing to worry about.

Is There a Relationship Between Trauma and Noise Sensitivity?

There’s a connection between noise sensitivity and trauma; it can be a symptom of PTSD that develops after trauma and even though not every autistic person had been through something traumatic, studies show that autistic people are more likely to experience traumatic events.

For example, due to difficulties with social interaction, they’re more vulnerable to becoming victims of bullying. [2] Recent research on misophonia also shows that sufferers don’t have abnormal hearing sensitivity and it’s trauma that makes it likely they develop the disorder as it reduces distress tolerance. [3]

Living with noise sensitivity can be incredibly difficult; triggers might be impossible to avoid and many sufferers have to deal with anticipation anxiety. However, it’s possible to reduce your symptoms and improve your comfort of living. Contact My Family Psychologist to see how we can help

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26061819/
[2] https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/professional-practice/ptsd-autism
[3] https://khironclinics.com/blog/misophonia/

I hope you enjoyed the 'separation and behaviour in children' article.

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