The Bipolar Brain – A Radio Station You Can’t Turn Off
Ah, the human brain. It’s a wondrous thing. It calculates, it categorizes, it makes connections and it remembers the square root of 144. I’m constantly awed by its power.
But one of the annoying things that can happen to a brain is that somehow, a song gets stuck in it. Somehow, even though its great power and ability, the catchy hook of the latest pop song gets stuck inside some errant neurons and plays over and over.
And this causes a lot more trouble in my bipolar brain than it does for others.
I Have Justin Bieber Stuck in My Head; I’m Thinking of Cutting it Off
I find myself with songs stuck in my head all the time. Like, every day, all the time. And they aren’t songs that I like or even songs I have heard that day they are just random songs that somehow fight their way into my consciousness long enough to create a groove there. And once they’re there? Good luck getting them out.
My Bipolar Brain and Earworms
According to Wikipedia, this phenomenon is known as an “earworm,” “musical imagery repetition” or “involuntary music imagery.” In Germany, they have a special word for it – Ohrwurn – “a type of song that typically has a high, upbeat melody and repetitive lyrics that verge between catchy and annoying.”
Earworms are completely natural, of course, and apparently, 98% of people experience them. Women seem to experience earworms for longer and are more irritated by them. Songs with lyrics account for about three-quarters of earworms.
My Earworm Moved In
Unlike the experience that most people have, I have earworms much of the time. Sometimes it’s one song that repeats for days and sometimes it’s many songs in a day, but predominantly they are there.
I have found no research suggesting people with bipolar disorder have more incidence of earworms than others but there is research that says people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) do and as I’ve remarked previously, OCD and bipolar disorder may be linked. And earworms on hypomania? That is your brain on extra-crispy-crazy.
Admittedly, it is a very obsessive thing my brain does. It feels like an obsession with the invisible. I can never see it so it never goes away. And I find this highly troubling.
Like, highly troubling. Like I could see someone wanting to ice pick his or herself just to make the blooming song in his or her head shut the heck up. It’s that much of an anxious obsession. It’s crazy-driving obsession. Sometimes I feel like I’m begging my brain to think of anything else but it laughs and carries on with the 30-second loop.
Holy macaroni is it ever frustrating.
So, my question to you is this: How often do you experience earworm? Is it troubling to you?
Tracy, N. (2012, November 23). The Bipolar Brain – A Radio Station You Can’t Turn Off, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, April 11 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/11/bipolar-brain-radio-cant-turn-off
Author: Natasha Tracy
I hear bits of songs or even film soundtracks ,the most recent is the Halloween soundtrack ,sometimes it gets out and sometimes comes back and sometimes replaces itself I do not why this happens just the mind chooses what to play on and on ,I try to exercise ,sometimes works out and sometimes doesn't ,I listen to relaxing Tibetan music works out for a short time and the radio station comes back ,funny I did not realize it was so common in people
I have taken various antidepressants for years. Sometimes I see to get immune to one and have to switch it up. My insurance i have now I have to go clinic. They are not as knowledgeable as most psychiatrist im used to seeing. So I am suffering during covid, no able to figure out a way to get a better doctor. Long story short. I do not have earworms when my meds are working right.
Ive been experiencing the same thing recently for last few months. Any Era of songs , im 63 , so a vast variety! I had a Brain Tumour 16 years ago and have been having frequent headaches and i have 2 children with Mental Health problems too.
However, i find if i just sing along to whatever appears , it will eventually give up after awhile , even if it takes a few hours of singing to do it!
It is just conditioning your brain to say " No " i dont want to play your stupid games! Good Luck 😁
I’m 49 and have songs, different ones and only a few lines, pop into my head at least 10 to 20 times a day. This has been this way for over since on and off since I was a teenager. I also have severe tinnitus but I’m positive it’s not related. Finding these comments has made me realise I’m not alone as my psychologist was clueless.
The songs annoy me and frustrate me when they won’t stop to the point of yelling at them in my head but most of look at them like I have a subconscious “Bumblebee “ ( from the movie transformers who could only speak via songs from the car radio )who sends me messages in the form of music. I’ve learnt to listen to my songs and try and tap into my emotional state at that moment to see if my mind is trying to tell me something.
My songs are from every era, every genre and sometimes songs my conscious has never heard. Normally in the form of repetitive few lines and never the same after the situational “loop” has ended.
I have severe anxiety, panic disorder and ocd and I am not medicated as I believe drugs don’t work. I do take CBD oil from my anxiety which is marvellous and I find my musical brain sends me songs more and more when anxiety and worry are higher ( even if outwardly I don’t feel anxious I did deeper to find the root cause )
I relied on music as a teenager to get me through my parents messy divorce, I used it to stop hearing their yelling. I use to to make me feel good and I’m positive my brain is using it in a way to self medicate when it thinks I need it. So I listen, accept and it goes away until the next moment in the day I need it.
This is so refreshing! You guys have no idea how normal this makes me feel. I stumbled upon this feed while researching songs being stuck on repeat in my mind all day everyday. I do also have tinnitus which I thought was the culprit! But I full heartedly appreciate everyone here who stopped in and commented with tips and advice on how to handle this annoying problem, and even ways to possibly overcome it altogether. I’m so grateful to have like-minded people in this big world. Thank you all, much love❤️
Please try listening to an audiobook. Though it's not a permanent fix, it will allow you to take a break from the barrage. I can listen out loud on my phone, but some may need to try it with headphones to keep out other distractions. Just make sure it's something you're actually interested in listening to so your mind doesn't wander. I do this when I'm doing things like dishes or repetitive tasks at work. Hope this helps someone.
Hello everyone. OCD and anxiety is a liar, it makes us believe the worst case scenarios of our imaginations. I get songs in my head quite a bit, I had to learn to not only accept it but encourage it. I learned this from my intrusive thoughts, images and thoughts that were so horrible that my mind kept playing it over and over again. I learned that once the fear of having such thoughts was removed, the images faded on their own. Same with the songs in my mind. It happens to just about everybody, according to research 98% get music or songs playing in their minds and 90% of people it happens to at least 4 times a week. Meaning its our anxiety about it that causes our grief, as this happens to 9 out of 10 people multiple times a week or more. Those people do not have underlying anxiety or OCD which means its probably playing in their heads and they barely notice it. Same with me, when my anxiety levels are down, I don’t even realize its there.
I'm sorry but you've fallen into the classic trap of thinking that all people react in a similar fashion to yourself. Just because you experience certain results from a certain course of action does not mean others experience the same results. You are making lots of assumptions based on general statistical information. I have seen this so many times during the last 52 years of suffering with this condition (OCD/intrusive thoughts/intrusive musical imagery - call it what you will), and it has been an ongoing problem.
Actually some of the worst 'offenders' are the so called professionals because most of them start by assuming they know what the problem is - and they don't. Each person is a unique individual and what might be effective for one person will not help another. During the last 52 years (I'm 71 now by the way) I have tried every conceivable treatment and medication that you can possibly imagine - and maybe more. Sadly, nothing has helped me to any significant degree. Also, all these treatments and medications and therapies can only ever address the symptoms (at least that's been my personal experience over the last half century).
The other thing you don't mention is that this condition is infinitely variable in how it impacts on individuals. It can range from a minor irritation to unrelenting mental torture such that any sort of normal functioning is almost impossible. It sounds to me like you're one of t;he lucky ones on the lower end of the scale; this is simply due to 'the luck of the draw.'
Yes, I agree with you, any sort of anxiety will exacerbate this condition; however anxiety and/or depression do not cause this condition. Nobody really knows the cause - we just know that it's possible to reduce the symptoms (for some, not all) with antidepressants, various therapies, and so on. I will never stop trying to find something that will help me because I'm not giving in to this; however the reality is that after 52 years of abject mental torture, it's very likely that I will suffer this until the end of my days.
Has anyone ever got rid of their earworm? If so how? I can't even function anymore, I'm afraid I'm only 22 and I don't think I can carry on with life in this mess. :(
Hi Jo and Emma, my heart goes out to you both because I have suffered with this loathsome condition for 52 years. Over that time I have tried just about everything you can think of or imagine to find a 'cure.' Sadly there is no cure that I'm aware of, and probably won't be for a long, long time. Yes, there are a thousand ways of dealing with the symptoms, but I have never read of anyone having found a permanent cure. You can chew gum and listen to distracting music (classical or jazz works best) until the cows come home, but the fundamental problem of intrusive musical thoughts remains obstinately rooted somewhere within the brain. In my opinion this is a physiological condition (chemical imbalance within the brain), and no amount of so called 'talk therapy' will change this. I recently found out about TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) and it does appear to be very promising - at least if you have a lot of money. A course of treatment will knock you back about £4-5000 and then you have to have regular follow up sessions at around £200/session (ouch!). Anyway, there it is - wish I could have been more helpful and positive but this has been my experience over many years (I'm 71 now)....
Hi, ive been reading a lot about this condition. I feel that I have it. There's always some song playing in my mind. it changes all the time, some times even after less than a minute. whenever I'm feeling sad or angry i can never properly feel the emotions because I have a song playing full blast in my mind. It keeps me up at night. Chewing gum doesn't help but listening to music does. Any tips on how to deal with it please ?
i too have been suffering from this for about four months, it’s relentless and no matter what i do aside from watching tv it’s always there. i stopped listening to music because of it and stay in bed most of the day trying to fall asleep to escape it. i’ve been taking lexapro for a month and an antipsychotic for a couple months which i’ve recently upped the dosage of with no change in the songs at all. it’s very discouraging, i can’t imagine having to live with this for the rest of my life i’m only 28 years old.
has anyone found anything that’s worked for them? please share, this condition is debilitating and causes pure suffering.
Have you found a solution? I'm the same for the past few months, I'm only 22 and have no mental health issues
I'm sorry you're experiencing that. I know how hard it is. Unfortunately, I don't know of a solution. What I can say, though, is you should see a doctor if it's causing you great distress.
- Natasha Tracy
There is no known 'solution' for OCD/intrusive thoughts. As regards seeing a doctor PLEASE do not waste time because they haven't got a clue about this condition. They will almost certainly prescribe an antidepressant because they don't know what else to do. If they refer you to a psychiatrist or a psychologist they will just try 'talking' therapy and, believe me, this will have little or no effect. If you're referred to a CBT therapist that will also be a complete waste of time. The big problem is that these so called professionals believe the condition is psychologically based and so they just root around for 'traumatic' experiences you've had in the past. This is a physiological condition (in my opinion) and no amount of talking about it will make any difference. I don't want to be negative but I have seen all these people, and more, over the last 52 years and they simply have no clue how to constructively help. The only thing I have encountered that may help is something called TMS therapy (transcranial magnetic stimulation) - apparently good results have been recorded over several years for OCD patients and others......only problem is that it costs a fortune. A full treatment if aound 30 sessions will be around £5-6000 and then you will need ongoing 'maintenance' treatment at around £200/session. If I had the funds I would definitely try this but I don't think I will live long enough sadly....
I READ THAT CHEWING GUM CAN HELP, AT LEAST YOU CAN TRY THAT DURING THE DAY. I AM JUST NOW TRYING IT AND IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING---? WILL SEE.
Omg....I found this while trying to search if there was an actual psychological diagnosis for the constant music going through my mind. The music is totally random and its almost all of the time. A couple months ago I had the A-Team theme song going through my mind. It went on for a few days and as far as I can recall, I didnt have any instances where I recently heard it. Also....YES...sometimes its songs that I dont even like. I have a knack for remembering lyrics, but not sure if that relates to this in any way. It's nice knowing that I'm not the only one.
I just found this blog while doing a Google search on whether there was something wrong with me for constantly living in a real life musical. I tend to just randomly blurt out lyrics to songs, jingles and even my own made up songs. Even though I don't do this in public very much (it has happened though) I have started questioning my sanity (maybe I (we) have been in quarantine too long). But so glad I found this blog and have read through the comments. I feel much less alone in this musical now. <3
The music in my head is getting louder. I also heard noises like different conversations with background music. So extremely weird. I can go to sleep with a song in my head and when I wake up hours later. It’s still freakin there! So confused!!
Had song stuck syndrome for 4 months now. I'm going insane. It's horrible.
Since 2008 I've been on a steady regimen of luvox, klonopin, and lamotrigine for chronic depersonalization disorder (a rare dissociative condition) and had been doing fine until i took on a full time job with a crazy schedule. Due to my new symptoms i increased my luvox and lamotrigine but no decrease in symptoms. Thru my research ive found that lamotrigine can induce musical hallucinations but that's different from internal musical imagery (earworms). I'm not sure what the cause is. My therapist thinks the stress and lack of sleep from my job (which i have since left) caused this. Not sure what to do. I'm doing hypnosis weekly but not much is working. Today i had a pretty good day but after a nap ive had the same song on a loop for the last 8 hours. Anyone have any info please contact me.
Hi Chris, sorry to hear you're suffering like this; I can totally sympathise since I have had this strange disorder most of my life (I'm now 70). I suffer from chronic OCD and I have tried countless treatments, therapies and medications over the last 30-40 years, none of which has remotely helped I'm sorry to say. I'm not a defeatist person but, after more than 50 years of this terrible condition, I have finally accepted that I will almost certainly have it for the rest of my life.
The condition varies from day to day, and week to week; sometimes the symptoms ease and I can enjoy some peace for a while. On other occasions it is so bad that words cannot describe the torment I go through. All I can do is face each day as it comes and make the best of a very bad deal. I wish I could offer some good advice but sadly it's a condition that seems to have no real cure, and all most people can do is try to alleviate the pain with antidepressants (which I stopped trying years ago by the way).
Anyway I wish you well and hope that we can all eventually look forward to some peace of mind.
I have been working on Psychoanalysis for 25 years and teaching for 12 years. Through all my life, I believed that this 'ecole' contains all the answers about any kind of mental problems. I do still believe...
As for my problems: I started to memorize some numbers, license plates, names, conversations and other things 3.5 years ago. Because of my scheduled life style, I had to skip long-term therapeutic process and started medical treatment. I took 100mg. Zoloft for two years and all symptoms dissapeared in the first 6 months successfully. I must say that the Sertraline is one of the most powerful tools for reducing anxiety.
After quiting pills -one year ago- this 'Stuck Song Syndrome' started. I just began to search some answers but I could not find any right suggestions.
I still have the same problem but not that effective. I don't have a spesific song. One song appears and then the other song generally dominates the first one. It is like a circle. I don't have any intention to take pills again.
Since 'anxiety' is not my major problem, I can face with these songs easily, like an observer from out of my mind. For the last two weeks, I managed to control those rhythms without trying to suppress them.
Here are some tips:
Whatever happens, please don't forget that the most harmful effect of the mind is anxiety. If you manage to reduce your anxiety, all musical effect 'slims down' automatically. If you defeat your anxiety, all musical symptoms lose their powers constantly. To defeat anxiety, put yourself in someone's place, someone who is healthy, who does not suffer with the same problem. Oberve people closer to you, see how they are careless about listening music, see how they go on with their life easily . A sharp identification with someone who does not have the same problem can really reduce the power of the song that stucks in your mind.
Second, jazz music; especially experimental or avant-garde jazz! It is really impossible to memorize any experimental Jazz music's partitions (if you are not a musician). When you listen that kind of music, the notes immediately transforms into an anti-virus that attacks the song stuck in your head. Use jazz as a spy for hunting the cheap song in your mind. Try 'Jazz Cure' not only once. You'll see the result after a couple of days.
There are some other interesting solutions, I'll keep on writing if you need to hear them.
Hi, very interesting post and I totally agree with all your comments. For myself I have suffered with all of these 'stuck song' issues for over 50 years. During that time I have tried every possible method known to man to try and alleviate my symptoms and, depressing though it is, nothing has ever really helped. I am not a quitter but, at the grand old age of 70, I have finally accepted the fact that I will be taking this to my grave.
BTW the jazz works amazingly well for me and is the only thing that helps maintain my sanity. All the best!
50 years is an enormous time to fight with an obsession. In early years of your life, 'antidepressant treatment' was not that powerful. Did you try new generation antidepressants? Zoloft is pretty active with these kind of obsessions, especially at higher doses (150-200 mg.)? I'm asking this because I really wonder about how you manage/d the anxiety level of this syndrome throughout the years.
Firstly - how have I managed 50 years of this condition? Simple really - there was no choice, I just had to carry on and make the best of a bad deal. I had a job and responsibilities to others so I persevered regardless.
I am VERY, VERY susceptible to the side effects of antidepressants and I transform into a total zombie. Better luck in the next life maybe?? :-)
Alan, have you tried latuda? It’s supposed to help with this. Also, have you had this your entire life? Do you feel down everyday because of it? I don’t want to live like that everyday.
I thank you for your excellent writing and advice Andre. As a medical student and newly "SSS" pt I found the power to control the brain beyond fasinating. And along with a passion for Jazz, your advice and insight is much appreciated.
What I hear in my mind is duh duh duh da du da duh.sometimes a song will last for a while but then it turns back to the rhythm
Yeah I’ve been dealing with this for weeks now & it’s causing me a lot of anxiety... it’s almost like I have a radio playing in my head.
This is quite common and not so rare after all. I understand that the constant earworms can be a warning/distraction from the brain when going deeper into a depression and anxiety, letting you know that cortisol is too high, and serotonin too low. Then there are those like myself who have OCD (pure ''o'' OCD in my case).
I have to admit that yes, the music can be annoying but I am saddened that some people on here are so frustrated and tired of them that they are suicidal. I really hope that you find the help that you need and try to live best with the music.
Initially when i had this syndrome I was very scared and went very deeply into anxiety and depression! A month after taking an SSRI (Paxil) it had all stopped and i felt amazing. However, 4 years after my initial diagnosis and the music, it came back when I was experiencing high levels of stress in life. After being off the Paxil for 3 1/2 years, i went back on them - and they have always worked for me.
Besides meds though i think there are some solutions our there that will help. Mindfulness and meditation can work. What you resist persists and what you look straight at will disappear. You can focus straight on it when you meditate. ERP is exposure, response prevention:- take a bath or meditate, notice the music and if anxiety comes up let it be (if this does happen) getting stronger, and stronger - however do not allow the compulsions to enter, such as pushing the music out, repeating numbers or words over it, jumping out of the bath/mediation position to find a quick distraction - JUST BE WITH IT. Also, according to Seth (PhD in Psychology) he suggested the following to me: 'With that kind of “earworm,” we usually recommend doing the opposite of our first inclination. So instead of trying to make it go away, the person would try to make it stay! Sing it “full volume” in one’s head, try to keep it in mind, etc. Our minds tend to be rebellious, and generally what happens when we try to keep something in mind is that our minds wander to other things. All the best with this!''
Also, there are other natural treatments such as vitamin C to reduce cortisol, magnesium chelate to relax the mind, chamomile, lavendar to increase some serotonin. Inositol (vitamin B8) is amazing, please read the following article
Also, please read these articles as there are CBT and ERP for stuck music syndrome: -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5461857/
Importantly, see your GP/Mental Health Professional to talk about this. Talk therapy alone increases serotonin and makes you feel better.
I hope some of this helps
This is Juanma from Spain. I'm also a Obsessive person and going trough a lot lately... A few months ago my stuck songs came in, and now I ALWAYS have a song in my head. Usually the latest I heard. Sometimes I realize I have forgot about the song and then instantly I have one in my head... usually the same, as a "basic password song". This is just one of my many symptoms so I am starting with SSRI. Also meditation, sport, terhapy and everything you can imagine. I can get used to the music but it's a constant reminder of my anxiety and weakness and somedays I can't simply cope with it.
Just want to confirm: did you said SSRI help you get rid of the problem in a month? That would be awesome.
Would really thank your reply.
I have the same problem. Could you please tell me how SSRI effected your syndrome; in positive or negative ways?
I am a manager in a place where I see thousands of people a day and communicate with them. I am bipolar and have been my entire life. However, I'm nearing 40 and I feel like I can almost control that entirely through force of will now. I can hold myself into a partial mania while retaining my ability to function in a somewhat organized way. I feel like I've almost gained the ability deal with every moment like it is completely new and like life has just started which makes me very good and moving with the flow of my job. No matter what pops up, I can take it in stride and move past it immediately most times. Almost like I've planned in it advance but the truth is that I just understand every situation every moment. Everything is utter chaos in my mind but because I've learned to harness it, I do really well with this.
Not to say I'm perfect, just highly functional. People regularly ask me how I can do things I do or who taught me to do things. I try to explain to them occasionally that I didn't know anything about whatever it was but that I can look at things/situations and see how it functions. I can speed read and I find that I have so much information stored in my head that literally everything I look at works in an obvious way and for an obvious reason. Honestly, the entire world seems like a dream but I know it is real at the same time.
Anyway, about the audio hallucinations. Mine isn't just music. I have conversations, lectures, and the like going on in my head too. It is mostly music, but it could be anything. A conversation I had when I was a little kid, something I saw in a movie, How It's Made episodes, or a song. Sometimes I am pretty sure it isn't something I've ever heard or said but an imaginary conversation/song or a dream that I've thought through at some point in my life.
These all seem real, they sound real in my head. I know they aren't currently real but they seem like they would have been. It is almost like I am having a dream while I am going through the day. They have a quality that makes them obviously not real.
I always have something in my head. Things can be displaced or changed pretty easily but I don't have complete control over that. I often hear the same song for a week or more depending. Whenever I am talking to people they will say a word or phrase and immediately, ask a question, or something to that effect and the song will start in my head.
Some of the people I work with know this is happening.
I whistle, sing, or twitch to a song almost constantly. The twitches/muscle/sniffs/clenches/spasms are the least noticeable and I'm not sure if the they are playing the song or a song plays to match the twitches.
My wife doesn't really care for music and doesn't want to hear the same song daily. The little girl we adopted is mildly autistic(undiagnosed) and has a similar musical ability/issue inside. We listen to music together a lot when my wife isn't there.
I usually don't have a problem with any of this. When I am giving in to my sullen and dark side or raged out, the music isn't exactly helpful though. The conversations and stores turn bitter and angry. I've gotten good at pushing them aside now for the most part. I find a lot of caffeine, hobbies, and reading help refocus my mind. I spend most of my life in a somewhat manageable mania now.
I woke up to a song I've had in my head for a few days. "Pinned Down" by Rebel Son. Terrible song but it is what is there. I found this site looking to read about my audio hallucinations.
I've suffered this symptom since I moved to a new country and lost my job, my life savings, family, friends and culture. It has been 4 years of full stress and always songs playing in my brain. I have no idea yet about my diagnostic, but with no permanent job and a family to feed and support, there is no time, desire and money to find out about it. I just pray to keep conscious enough to look normal to my children and wife.
Thanks for the article, it's interesting.
Bi polor mania all my life. Just in the last year developed a ear worm. It's driving me insane.
24/7 365 i have a bar or 2 of a song repeating in my head. and i have layers of thoughts on top of that, its like if you were playing a excerpt of a song on repeat,a talkshow, and somebody talkindown to you, plus your inner voice. i want to kill myself just for a moment of silence.
I have suffered with INMI (Intrusive Musical Imagery) for 50 years and have finally accepted that I can never be rid of this devastating condition. The best I can hope for is to be able to manage this on a daily basis so that at least my life is reasonably bearable.
One of the most frustrating things for me has been the difficulty of trying to explain my symptoms to other people (usually so called professionals), and it is almost impossible to articulate to others just how utterly relentless and debilitating this condition can be. One of the main reasons for this is that we are all unique human beings and, of course, experience things in completely different ways. I am thoroughly tired of 'professionals' telling me that they understand what I'm going through when that is patently impossible.
Anyway the main reason for this comment is to include a copy of an article that was written about 3 years ago in a national newspaper. It was submitted by a gentleman who suffers with INMI and it is one of the best pieces I have read on the subject. It is uncanny (to me anyway) how similar his symptoms mirror my own...........
"Have you ever found yourself with a piece of music stuck in your head for what feels like hours, or maybe even days? Perhaps a chorus, a catchy line, maybe a whole verse? If so, you probably didn’t find it too bothersome. These “earworms” are a natural byproduct of listening to music.
I experience a significantly amplified version of this strange beast. They can only be described as severe earworms bordering on musical hallucinations. I have a song looping in my head from the moment I wake until the moment I drift off to sleep – with absolutely no let-up in between. The earworm usually takes the form of one or two bars from a familiar song repeating incessantly, until another one finally pops into my head to replace it. It’s a neverending cycle. The source is often the last thing I heard on TV or simply the last piece of music I happened to think of. It’s easily triggered: something as innocuous as overhearing the word “groove” can set off the chorus to Earth, Wind & Fire’s Let’s Groove. It can often take me a minute or two just to realise its origin.
Yesterday, I had Slayer’s Piece By Piece looping in my head. Right now, it’s the Carly Rae Jepsen song I Really Like You. Unfortunately, there’s no clear medical explanation for my chronic condition – beyond murmurings of OCD and “auditory imagery loops”. I’ve realised that “earworm” is too meagre a term to describe this hellish affliction. Ear kraken or cochlea wolf would be more apt.
I believe the condition grew from an anxiety disorder that cropped up last summer. I’d had minor health anxieties as a teenager, but the fear this new bout caused me was so all-consuming that I spent the rest of 2014 feeling on the edge of psychosis. Jumping to such wild conclusions seems ignorant in hindsight, but rationality and anxiety do not go hand in hand.
My concerns have since died down considerably. Now, on the rare days when I feel like a well-adjusted and useful member of society, the compulsion to focus on the looping dissipates, and I’m able to go about my business uninterrupted. But when I’m at my worst, the music can still swell to an uncomfortable volume and send me into the most unpleasant spiral of obsession imaginable. There was a point towards the end of last year when I had The Who’s My Generation stuck in my head. Roger Daltrey’s “My generation!” refrain got louder and louder until it reached an impossible point of distortion that absolutely terrified me.
During conversations I will often zone out, the music looping in my head taking all my concentration. I’m basically a write-off when it comes to anything like instructions or directions. This has put a considerable dent in the love I once had for my hobbies. I used to adore cinema as much as I do music, but my ability to fully immerse myself within it has been seriously hindered. The next time you watch a film like the austere samurai revenger’s tragedy Hara-Kiri, try to imagine the chorus to Blue’s All Rise repeating on a low volume throughout – then you will understand my problem. It completely punctures any tension or atmosphere, and makes absorbing dialogue an absolute nightmare. Matthew McConaughey’s musings on the intricacies of space travel were practically white noise by the time I’d made it to the end of Interstellar. My mind feels perpetually clogged, as if at a permanent standstill. Cohesive, fully realised thoughts rarely manage to stumble their way through the fog.
There are a few minor advantages to all of this, especially when it comes to composing (I’m able to pluck melodies out of nowhere). But there’s still something painful about suffering from a symptom that seems so abstract and minor from the outside. I started a course of anxiety inhibitors, SSRIs, towards the end of last year in an attempt to curb the problem and, although they’ve managed to quell the surrounding anxiety, the song remains the same and shows no sign of stopping. It’s a horrid nuisance but I’ve gradually taught myself to accept the condition as permanent. Now all I have to do is learn how to live with it."
I have the same. What is this condition ocd? Or bipolar? Do you have facebook I really need some type of support please I’m losing it.
I hear them 24 hours a day. I'll wake up in the middle of the night and there they are. All day at work, too. I'll be in the middle of a conversation and I start singing the song in my head. It just doesn't stop. So very annoying. I literally want to tear my head off to get it to stop.
Laura .I have the same problem. The songs are with me all the time. I have found out if I listen to music without words I don't have the song in my head until I hear music with words. I have had the lemon tree song from the 50 and 60 in my head for two weeks since my husband was listening to it. It is very annoying. My son has the same thing. My husband understand I turn the music with words on and get relief for a little. Don't ever watch mama Mia the songs will stay with you. I loved the movie but won't watch it again. Sorry this is so long but I'm glad I'm not person having this problem. O just wish some of those professional people would listen to us better. Thank you. Ruby
I am exactly the same it started a few years ago now in a morning I just have a random song in my head all day everyday and it’s driving me insane !
I started to have this happen for the past five months or so, it's very manageable/absent now. Just realize your emotional response to any thought gives it meaning and that meaning makes it stick around. Your brain feels like it needs to keep bringing something back to help you solve it. Your cortex brings back the thought, but the limbic system brings back the negative emotion and overpowers any ability to rationalize. You feel what you focus on, if you take away the negative feelings associated with music stuck in your head it will dissipate over time. Worrying creates problems, not solves them.
I hear music 24/7. Sometimes it's a chorus, or a verse, and sometimes it's a full song. Sometimes the songs repeat for hours, sometimes they change by the minute. But it's usually songs I like or would listen to. It feels like background music in my head, because it doesn't affect my focus, but at any point in time I can give you the song, artist, and lyric playing in my head. It's really weird and idk if it's because I love music so much, or if it's my bipolar.
Almost everyone on the face of the earth has these. The more you hyper focus on them, the worse they will be. I highly suggest that others who struggle with anxiety, depression, bi polar, or other mental illnesses try to give themselves compassion by speaking positivity into themselves. Remember your value. Have grace for yourself. Take deep breaths and practice healthy self care. Most importantly, remember you are not alone. The mind is powerful. Let it be what it is.... uniquely yours.
First of all im an aspiring DJ, when i started to develop my psychosis the same things happened, a lot of what i went through started as MES or Earworms and i started to get suicidal over it, somedays id use it as a good work tool to get things done, but it got worse to the point i couldnt beat my mind unless i concentrated on it all day and the next day it would start up again. If u get to the point u literally cant deal with it and u feel like a constant turmoil setting in run to a doctor. Make sure hallucinations dont start to occur and that u dont get so angry or suspicious of things from thoughts that are repetitive and untrue because u cant think clear. If you cant sleep u could go into fight or flight mode like i did and it could consume u and u wont be able to eat properly. It will use up all your energy and your brain will always feel hot if ur on the verge of pshycosis plus depression and anxiety or nausea could also be present at the same time if u have psychosis. I take Olanzapine witch helps a little but ive developed an eating disorder from all the weight i gained and im trying to lose weight now so i take days off of medication sometimes and eat less. After a few days off meds the first symptoms to come back are earworms that start to get worse like ringing in ears. Ive also done dmt in my life and i think it helped me since everything got so loud like a buzzing sounds to the point where i couldnt handle it then it shut off all sounds in my head and when silent this was way before i developed psychosis so i believe it may be a way of identifying someone with psychosis or schizophrenic tendancies before they develop. I believe people like me with near schizophrenic brains might be able to benefit with a treatment of ayahuasca everyonce in a while and theres already a few studies on it.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
For anyone who may read the above, please carefully consider the possible negative outcomes of using illegal drugs. They can bring about psychosis that can be very difficult to treat. Also, as they are not regulated (obviously) you never know what's really in a drug.
Just a reminder.
- Natasha Tracy
Interesting that I found this site. For some reason, earworms sounds like you are hearing this from your ears. I'm thinking auditory hallucinations sounds better. It's embedded in my brain, not my ears. Looping music the entire day....stupid songs at that. It never goes away. Never. I'm on seroquel for it, but my tolerance for drugs is very low, so I can only handle a half dose. It quiets it down to a lower volume, but it's still there all during my waking hours. Looping, looping, looping on the same line...I'm bipolar 2 with PTSD. And unfortunately had a public anxiety attack the other day...embarrassing. Can't stand opera, little angry fairies dancing in my head. Can't tolerate chewing gum either - another irritating trigger. I'll be seeing a different therapist soon...meds are Fluoxetine, Seroquel & Kolonopin. I won't mention the looping song - or rather line I have in my head right now.....no one else needs to be stuck with it too! Thanks for this forum!
Stumbled upon this topic quite accidentally in a moment of BiPolar desperation and tears. But have no fear; I have always preferred to cycle ultra-rapidly; sure the highs and lows are more condensed, but most of the time it keeps me in a relatively safe state between detesting my very existence and wondering why I haven't been put in charge of, well, everything.
For me, it never stops. ever. "Stop grinding your teeth Mike." says the voice in my head whilst I am busy thinking about the current task at hand happens to often to count. In addition to my odd ball internal sound track, my brain likes to grind my teeth in time to the music. Obviously this tends to be counter-productive to my teeth, but I am also blessed with Arthritis mutilans; so every joint, every muscle, every tendon, every physical connection is crushed under the swelling pressure and eventually damaged beyond repair or replacement. It is constant pain all the time. My mind tortures my body and I don't really get a say in it. But hey, I still got my health.
avoiding treatment since '87, if it wasn't for laughing, I'd be crying.
I just finally googled this because it is driving me mad. I have been diagnosed with bipolar,the one you don the even get the euphoria from! I constantly have songs in my head,it's an endless loop,from whatever I hear outside,like in a store,or jingles on the tv will stick for days,even my breathing will start to make a rhythm like I'm constantly whistling. This isn't like occasionally when you get a song stuck for awhile,it's 24 /7 I wake up with it,and while driving I'll just yell STOP
and try to clear my mind and it lasts for like 30 seconds with effort. i thought maybe it's my meds since it has worsened. What is the treatment for this because I'm to the point I can't take it. You know they torture people by playing constant music or tapes. I'm at my wits end.
I'm sorry to hear you are experiencing this. I know how frustrating this is.
There is no set treatment. All I can tell you to do is to work with your doctor as some medications may help with this while others may hurt.
- Natasha Tracy