Is there a link between them?


Do certain sounds irritate you, sometimes to the point of rage?

  • A friend pulls out a nail file and you shudder and rush into another room or immediately put your hands over your ears.
  • Every time your coworker stirs his coffee with a metal spoon, you need to bite your lip so as not to yell “Stop!” To the clicking sound.
  • You eat your dinner standing in the kitchen, with the oven fan on to block out the sound of your partner’s chewing.

If these scenarios sound a little familiar to you, it’s quite possible that you have misophonia, a condition where certain sounds cause an extreme emotional response. You might think of it as extreme sensitivity to specific sounds – sounds that people without misophonia can usually ignore.

If you suffer from (or think you have) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a neurodevelopmental disease that often involves hypersensitivity to stimuli, you might wonder about the possible links between these conditions.

Existing research on misophonia suggests a possible link between misophonia and ADHD. Yet research into misophonia is still in its infancy, and experts have not come to any conclusions about the link between the two.

Read on for an in-depth exploration, along with some alternate explanations to consider.

While misophonia literally means “hatred of sound,” people living with the disease can experience a range of emotions when they hear trigger sounds.

Anger tends to be the most common, but others include:

  • anxiety
  • irritation
  • aggravation
  • disgust
  • impatience

You might also feel trapped or stuck. In fact, it’s not uncommon for misophonia triggers to trigger a fight, flight, or freeze response.

Experts have not yet decided whether misophonia is best described as a separate psychiatric condition or a hallmark of other conditions. Having said that, most now recognize it as a condition that can cause severe distress.

In a small study 2017, the researchers noticed that the brain’s emotional processing centers produced an extreme response when people with misophonia heard triggering sounds.

They also noted unusual connections between the anterior island cortex and the network in default mode, which helps you retrieve memories. This connection suggests that unpleasant memories might play a role in misophonia as well.

Research from 2021 have also found support for irregular brain connections, as well as evidence to suggest that people with misophonia may have larger tonsil volume. The study’s authors believe that the larger amygdala might help explain the exaggerated response to sound.

Future research may offer more information on whether these brain differences contribute to misophonia or manifest as a result of the disease.

To date, little research has specifically examined the possible links between ADHD and misophonia.

In a Large-scale study 2017 of people living with misophonia, the researchers found that half of the 301 participants also had another disease diagnosed. Of those 150 participants, 12 percent (18 people) had ADHD.

Research from 2020 considered a larger sample: 575 people with misophonia. In this study, 5 percent of the participants (31 people) also had ADHD.

These results do not offer conclusive evidence of a link, but they do suggest a potential link.

In addition, it should be noted that experts have not studied misophonia for so long. The condition itself was only named and defined in 2001 – very recently, in the context of scientific research.

The evidence supporting a link between misophonia and ADHD may be limited, but many evidence connects ADHD with increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli, including sounds.

To put it simply, people with ADHD often find it difficult to filter and process unnecessary sensory input or information from the environment.

Suppose you are attending a lecture with a small group of classmates. Like everyone else, you listen to your teacher speak. But you have ADHD, and your brain too absorbs all other sensory information from the room at the same time:

  • changing light patterns filtering through the curtains
  • leaves waving in trees outside
  • clicking when the classroom heater turns on
  • scribble pens and pencils
  • the tightness of your sock cuffs
  • the chairs creak
  • coffee smells and body lotion
  • classmates wiggling and swinging their legs

These details overload your brain, overwhelm you, and prevent you from focusing on the information you need most: your teacher’s lecture.

As with misophonia, this sensory overload can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and anger. These emotions can be even more difficult to tolerate and manage if you also have difficulty dealing with your emotions, another common concern for people with ADHD.

In other words, sensory processing issues might look like misophonia, to the point that it becomes difficult to tell them apart. As an added complication, certain visual triggers also trigger a response for some people with misophonia.

Some researchers Think of misophonia as another part of general sensory intolerance, not a separate diagnosis. But if you only notice a reaction to sounds, not other sensory information, many experts would likely consider misophonia to be the best description of your symptoms.

Misophonia can also be linked to a number of other conditions, including:

Experts have yet to find out why misophonia seems to appear more often in people living with these conditions. But it’s also worth considering other important links and overlaps between ADHD and depression, anxiety, or OCD:

Anxiety

Many people suffer from both ADHD and anxiety. But it is also possible to confuse one for the other, as some symptoms of anxiety and ADHD can be similar:

  • restlessness and restlessness
  • difficulty relaxing or feeling calm
  • difficulty dealing with emotions, stress, and your reaction to fear
  • impaired memory, concentration and concentration

Experts have found a lot of support for a link between anxiety and misophonia. In fact, older research also suggests that it could develop as a symptom of generalized anxiety, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder or schizotypal personality disorder.

So while your misophonia could certainly be linked to ADHD, it could also be linked to anxiety.

Learn more about the main similarities between ADHD and anxiety.

TOC

As mentioned above, misophonia can come across as a symptom of OCD rather than an independent concern, and this is where things get a bit tricky. Some evidence suggests that many children diagnosed with ADHD might actually have OCD instead.

Like misophonia and ADHD, OCD often appears in childhood. And while it’s certainly not impossible to experience misophonia in addition to OCD and ADHD, Research 2015 suggests that this could be quite rare.

The authors of a 2018 study note that misophonia appears to be closely related to obsessions with OCD. So if you are living with misophonia and you also notice obsessive thoughts or any other symptoms of OCD, you might have OCD – not ADHD.

Learn more about the difference between ADHD and OCD.

Depression

Experts don’t often misdiagnose depression as ADHD, but there’s another important connection to consider: Many people living with ADHD also experience depression.

You can say the same, however, for people living with misophonia. In fact, depression is one of the most common mental health issues associated with misophonia.

The theory of misophonia as a symptom could help explain this link, of course. But it’s also true that severe symptoms of misophonia might cause you to avoid any situation where you might hear triggering sounds.

Depending on your triggers, this could mean:

  • avoid parties and other social events
  • keep your distance from loved ones
  • refuse invitations to restaurants or any other place where people eat
  • difficulty dealing with emotional responses to sounds at school, work, or home
  • choose not to have a pet, even if you really want one

In short, misophonia could lead to lifestyle changes that negatively affect your mood and relationships and can be factored into symptoms of depression.

Additionally, since it appears that misophonia and ADHD may play a role in depression in some people, misophonia as well as ADHD may increase the risk of depression.

It never hurts to connect with a therapist when you notice all symptoms that cause persistent mental or emotional distress.

Trained mental health professionals can help you identify the possible causes of these symptoms, and provide you with support and information about therapy and other useful treatments for ADHD symptoms, including hypersensitivity. If misophonia Is relate to ADHD, the right treatment could make a difference.

They can also offer advice on coping advice and potential treatment options for misophonia. Although misophonia has no known cure, a number of strategies appear to have a positive impact on symptoms:

In therapy, you can also begin to explore possible changes that might help you avoid or better tolerate sound triggers in your daily life. These can include things like:

Help from a therapist becomes even more essential if you notice feelings of anxiety or depression, or if you find yourself avoiding important people and parts of your life.

Experts haven’t found much evidence to explain the possible link between ADHD and misophonia, but research shows it’s just the start. Future studies may offer more information on the link between the two.

At the end of the day, what really matters is getting support for any symptoms that are disrupting your life and causing distress, whether those symptoms seem to be related to ADHD, misophonia, or something else.

As mental health professionals increasingly recognize misophonia as a real concern – especially for people who also have ADHD or certain mental health issues – contacting a therapist could offer a key to improvement.


Crystal Raypole writes for Healthline and Psych Central. His areas of interest include Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sexual positivity, and mental health, as well as books, books and more. In particular, she is committed to helping reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. She lives in Washington with her son and an adorably recalcitrant cat.


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