Are Misophonia and OCD Related?


Are Misophonia and OCD Related?

Misophonia is a decreased sound tolerance to specific sounds that causes intense negative reactions in patients. It is not to be confused with hyperacusis, which is an increased sensitivity to everyday sounds. Hyperacusis causes are based on hearing issues, while misophonia’s causes are primarily neurological and psychological.


However, some scientists believe there is a correlation between misophonia and other mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This article examines that connection and its roots within the brain. It also discusses how the connection between misophonia and OCD primarily refers to the two conditions’ obsessive tendencies rather than any compulsive similarities.


Much like OCD, misophonia presents itself differently depending on the patient. Because severity ranges from patient to patient, and it’s neither a hearing problem nor a psychological disorder, scientists vary in their diagnosis and treatment approaches.


If you’re experiencing misophonia symptoms, visit a qualified ENR doctor or audiologist to develop the best misophonia treatment for you. Because treatments vary, and misophonia can make people feel isolated and hopeless,  it’s essential to consult with a specialist who makes you feel comfortable with your symptoms and your diagnosis.


What Is Misophonia?

Misophonia is a disorder where specific everyday sounds elicit intense psychological reactions such as rage, anxiety, disgust, and hatred. Many scientists believe misophonia’s causes have to do with the brain’s fight or flight center.


A recent study published by found that misophonia trigger sounds caused abnormal activity in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. These parts of the brain regulate emotional responses and processing. The study highlights the connection between the body’s auditory complex and limbic system as a potential cause for misophonia.


Many healthcare providers are ill-equipped when it comes to providing misophonia treatment. Because healthcare providers may not be familiar with the condition, seeking out audiologists or doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating misophonia is your best option.


Most treatment plans use a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), and medications such as anti-anxiety or antidepressants.


What Is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychological disorder that causes recurrent thoughts or fears that lead to compulsive behaviors. OCD often centers around phobias or neuroses, such as the fear of getting infected by germs, leading to excessive hand washing.


Research suggests OCD affects similar parts of the brain as misophonia, such as the thalamus and the cingulate cortex. Abnormalities in the neurotransmitter systems also contribute to OCD, such as how the brain cells send and receive chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and glutamine.


However, this research doesn’t point to any definitive OCD cause, and other studies suggest genetic, behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors also contribute to OCD in patients.



Treatment for OCD is very similar to misophonia treatment and uses cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications as the main components.


In more severe cases, when patients don’t respond to traditional therapy methods, more experimental treatment methods are available. These treatment types include brain surgery, gamma knife, deep brain stimulation, and transcranial magnetic stimulation

What Is the Connection Between OCD and Misophonia?

As previously discussed, misophonia and OCD affect similar parts of the brain, most notably, portions of the brain’s limbic system. As an NCBI study shows, “the neural circuitry involved in OCD and misophonia may be similar.”


The neurological components aren’t the only similarities between the two conditions. OCD and misophonia also both have emotional and behavioral components linking them.

Similar Triggering-Response Mechanisms

Both misophonia and OCD involve similar triggering mechanisms. For example, someone chewing their food initiates an involuntary response in some misophonia patients,  which is very similar to how an OCD patient experiences an automatic response to their obsessive thoughts.


In the misophonia patient, the sound acts as the trigger, in the OCD patient, the thought acts as the trigger.


Similar Physical Sensations

Misophonia and OCD also trigger similar physical sensations. For example, the misophonia patient who hates the sound of chewing might experience a rapid heart rate, much like the OCD experiences an increased heart rate in response to their unwanted thoughts. These similar reactions point to an obsessive tendency consistent with both OCD and misophonia.


Similar Coping Mechanisms

People with OCD develop similar coping mechanisms as those with misophonia. For example, a person with misophonia might carry headphones with them and wear them any time the noise irritant occurs, which is similar to a person with OCD feeling the need to check their locks five times every time they fear they forgot to lock the door.


Both cases demonstrate how patients might use an involuntary coping mechanism to deal with their symptoms. While these methods may work in the short term, patients can develop a dependency on their coping mechanisms, leading to disruptive consequences.


Misophonia patients may let their intense adverse reactions to sound interfere with their relationships. For example, a man lashes out at his significant other for chewing too loud. OCD patients can also experience disruptive consequences from their coping mechanisms. For example, a woman can’t go outside for fear she’ll contract a disease.

Obsessive Tendencies

The research studying the connection between misophonia and OCD deals primarily with the two conditions’ obsessive tendencies. A study published in Elsevier found that misophonia patients didn’t experience compulsive behaviors in-line with OCD patients.


Studies also show how both misophonia and OCD patients avoid the sound triggers that cause their involuntary obsessive tendencies. This avoidance results in a decreased tolerance for the trigger, and in many cases, it increases their symptom severity.


The Link Between Misophonia and OCD

There are three primary links between misophonia and OCD. The first link is a psychological link that has to do with how patients respond to their condition. Both OCD and misophonia patients react to their conditions with obsessive tendencies, focusing on the external factor that causes the reaction.


The second link is that both conditions have neurological components. Misophonia may have to deal with the connection between the auditory and limbic systems’ communication, while OCD may have to do with how the brain’s neurotransmitters operate.


The third link between misophonia and OCD is that both conditions are highly complex and challenging to define because they have psychological and physiological characteristics. Above all, this article highlights the need for credible research into misophonia and OCD’s pathophysiology. More definitive research will help us understand how to better diagnose and treat the conditions.















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