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What is Happening with Misophonia Research?

Preliminary reports on three new studies

Courtesy of Pexels
Source: Courtesy of Pexels

Many people write to me asking what has been accomplished at the Misophonia and Emotion Program at Duke University. Recently, studies have yielded some interesting preliminary findings.

As Dr. Zach Rosenthal, Program Director, explains the three recent studies focus on exploring the relationship between misophonia and:

o Emotional functioning and emotion regulation
o Sensory over-responsivity across other senses
o Psychiatric and neurological disorders

Dr. Rosenthal reports that while these are small and preliminary studies, findings are noteworthy.

1. Misophonia symptom severity is related to higher symptoms of anxiety, depression, and general psychological distress. It also is higher among individuals with more psychiatric disorder diagnoses. However, misophonia is not related to any one specific psychiatric disorder. Instead, greater misophonia symptom severity is related to a range of different psychiatric disorders. This may indicate that the symptoms of misophonia occur in various psychiatric disorders and/or that misophonia is a risk factor in personality development and disorders. In addition, these preliminary results suggest that misophonia is not related to any specific psychiatric diagnosis.

2. Misophonia symptom severity appears to be related to more general sensory over-responsivity across senses. That is, misophonia severity is associated with higher auditory sensory over-responsivity. However, it is also related to greater over-responsivity to touch, taste, and visual cues. This suggests misophonia may not be uniquely related to sensitivity to sounds.

3. Misophonia symptom severity is related to certain personality features, including the general tendency to feel intense negative emotions, emotional instability, and difficulties regulating emotions when upset. However, misophonia was unrelated to general neuroticism or the tendency to have intense positive emotions. This pattern of findings suggests that those with misophonia may not be more “neurotic” or feel all emotions intensely, but may instead have difficulties with emotional intensity, instability, and emotion regulation. Notably, this study does not tell us if the symptoms of misophonia are a result of emotional dysregulation or if they are causal, or both. Likely misophonia is an interaction of both.

Emotionally related misophonia symptoms include anger, sadness, a feeling of overload, anxiety, disgust, and other responses to trigger sounds. How people regulate these emotions in response to trigger sounds can help with coping skills. To determine the best treatments for misophonia, both neurological and emotional regulation (and ways in which they interact) should be considered.

I hope this serves to provide information for those interested in Misophonia research and Misophonia in general. Dr. Rosenthal explains that pending funding, a study deconstructing the acoustic features of the typical misophonic sounds is underway. In addition, an efficacy study regarding the use of memory reconsolidation studies as an intervention for Misophonia is also underway, also pending funding.

For further information

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