Listen to this article 1 In 5 UK Residents Suffer From Misophonia, Can’t Tolerate Sounds
According to a new study from King’s College London and University of Oxford, nearly one in five people in the UK suffer from misophonia, a condition where common sounds made by others, such as chewing and sniffing, cause a strong negative reaction.phonophobia is a complex and distressing disorder that has been poorly understood until recently. This study is the first in the UK to assess the level of misophonia in a general population.
The study used a new questionnaire developed to capture the severity and complexity of misophonia within a sample of 772 people who were representative of the UK general population across sex, age and ethnicity. The analysis showed that 18.4 per cent of the general UK population report that certain sounds, such as loud chewing, and repetitive sniffing, cause a significant problem in their lives. Misophonia is equally common in men and women and tends to be less severe with age.
Impact of Misophonia
Misophonia is a strong negative reaction to common sounds, which are usually made by other people, and include breathing, yawning, or chewing. People with phonophobia often experience a fight-or-flight response to the sounds, which can trigger anger and a need to escape. Misophonia goes beyond just feeling annoyed by a sound. Individuals with misophonia may experience a sense of helplessness and feeling trapped, particularly when they are unable to remove themselves from an unpleasant sound. Additionally, they may feel guilty for their negative reactions, especially when they involve sounds made by loved ones.
Only 13.6 per cent of people had heard about misophonia and 2.3 per cent identified as having the condition, suggesting that many are not aware there is a term to describe how they react to sounds.
Severity of Misophonia
The new questionnaire used in the study captures the extreme reaction some people have to these sounds and how they feel about themselves because of those reactions. It also measures the impact of phonophobia on people’s lives, such as social isolation, avoiding certain places, and concerns about the future. Researchers estimated the reactions specifically associated with misophonia by comparing the results from this study and previous research that utilized the S-Five scale with individuals who have misophonia. For example, loud chewing, slurping, snoring, and loud breathing frequently elicited negative emotional responses across the sample, whereas reactions to normal breathing, footsteps, and swallowing were indicative of higher levels of phonophobia. Researchers also found that those with misophonia experienced anger and panic as a reaction to specific sounds, whereas irritation was a more common reaction across the sample.
The study’s lead author, Dr Silia Vitoratou, Senior Lecturer in Psychometrics and Measurement at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, said: “We have shown that everyday sounds made by others negatively impact the lives of nearly one in five people in the UK. Our study also suggests that many people may not recognize they have that.