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Our Mental Health Blogs

Noise Sensitivity: When The World Is Too Loud

Noise sensitivity can be a mental health trigger, but there are things you can do to lessen noise sensitivity (hyperacusis). Get tips here.
Noise sensitivity can be likened to nails on a blackboard. The constant buzz and whir of music, technology, the buzzing of Facebook notifications, ringing phones and loud conversations can be overwhelming. This sensitivity to noise is known as hyperacusis, a condition that arises from a problem in the way the brain processes noise.

 

When a sufferer comes to dread social settings due to the noise, it can become a mental health trigger. Sufferers may feel trapped with no escape, want some place quiet or feel disoriented, as though he or she can hear every noise or conversation in a room.  The effect is similar to being in an echo chamber.

Causes of Noise Sensitivity

Hearing loss does not necessarily reduce sensory overload.  The way in which the brain processes the sound does not mean that a person with hyperacusis, or sensitivity to sound in general, has better hearing. It’s just that he or she is more sensitive to certain sounds:  paper rustling, conversations, heating and air system sounds, etc.

Some causes of sensory overload include:

  • brain injury
  • airbag deployment
  • epilepsy
  • ear damage
  • TMJ
  • Neurological conditions such as migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder can also be associated with increased sensitivity to noise.

Tips to Reduce Noise Sensitivity

  • Incorporate some white noise into your surroundings  – run a fan, invest in a white noise machine, open a window or install a white noise app on your cell phone.
  • Wear noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds.
  • Try positioning yourself in another area of the room.
  • If you are wearing a hoodie, putting the hood up can lessen the stimulation.
  • Using a tactile tool, such as rubbing a smooth stone can provide enough of a distraction to facilitate calming (Using Objects to Reduce Anxiety).
  • Use post-it notes to cover sensors on auto-flushing toilets or automatic hand driers.
  • Visiting during non-peak times and seeking seating on the perimeter can help to reduce exposure to noise.

What do you do when the world becomes too loud?  We’d love to hear what has worked for you.

You can also connect with Paulissa Kipp on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and her website, Paulissakippisms.

189 thoughts on “Noise Sensitivity: When The World Is Too Loud”

  1. As a person who is very sensitive to particular sounds that can vary in pitch, frequency and density, I think it’s important to gather that loudness is not the core of the dilemma we are facing.

    After years of not knowing why I am so damn sensitive to certain acoustic frequencies, I have finally gotten to the bottom of it. I have found out the reasoning as to why and how this occurs. First I must declare to you that YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY PROBLEM! It’s impaerative to understand that.

    What may seem to be a problem is merely the phenomena of anxiety that the mind keeps amplifying, not knowing why it can be so unbearable, not knowing how come it seems to be that only “I seem to have this problem” while anyone who is around us seems not to be bothered by it. This anxiety that is taken place in our mind pressures us to find a solution.

    So in reality what happens is twofold:
    – We experience the phenomena of sharp concentrated sound to be extremely disturbing. ( this is pure physical reaction that stems from our particaulr mechanism or our particular genetic disposition)
    – The mind is reacting to the phenomena by projecting fears (aka mental anxieties) in order to create pressure for us to do something about it, to find a solution. It wants to know: “when this will be over? Tell me now! Do something about it. When this will be over?” And it goes on and on until one loses it. And once we find out we can’t do anything about it, the aggravation, potential rage and anger are all increased.

    As you can see this is a double edge sword.

    What I have found out on myself is the following:
    I have gone deep deep into my genetic code ( possible through the knowledge of the Human Design system) and have discovered that my “ailment” is simply a disposition. It is not a malady. It is not a problem. It is not a curse. Even though our modern age, led by the vast explosion of industrialism, we have had an explosion in the “new” type of frequencies generated by “artificial” bodies such as tools, machines, vehicles and the myriad combinations of them all. In other words there are so much artificial noise around us. It is not something that I can bet was a problem a 100 years ago. Basically what I am trying to convey is that my natural disposition for an environment is where the sound in that environment is diffused. Now this is very important to understand. A diffused sound is not necessarily lower in volume even though it fills big part of it. I can get irritated by listening to someone whispering next to me. Or neighbors talking across the wall. Or base sounds from music, and any sharp concentrated sounds that are created by honking, shouting, squeaking, construction and what not.
    However the sound of passing cars for example or white noise, have never bothered me as they are diffused by nature and therefore does not instill any aggravated reaction.

    To conclude: we have a genetic disposition for a specific environment. This is not geographical per se, but rather the nature of an environment.
    In addition, I have several genetic imprints in places that are directly connected to my hearing ability which in plain language means that I am very sensitive to acoustic frequency of any nature.

    Right when I had found out that my natural and healthy disposition for a diffused sound environment, I immediately purchased a few packs of silicon made ear plugs ( I use Mack’s brand that can be found in every major retail store. They cost around $3.50/pack and they come with 6 pairs) that I have worn for a year now. This has improved my life quality tremendously as it simply takes off all that edge. The remarkable thing is that I wear them almost everywhere. Where most of us use it for sleep, what I have learned is that wearing it while being awake, and using is while interacting normally in life as we do, has been a rewarding experience. You can still hear other people talking. You can hear a conversation and be engaged in it and yet have a sense of ease and detachment ( even though it is not the more accurate for describing it). It is luminous to see how much frequency and the nature of frequency has so much impact on our lives. To truly grasp that ‘frequency’ is the base for all creation however to experience it in this manner and to see the difference is an eye opener to the nature of being and how intricate and marvelous our bodies are.

    It would be very helpful to gather data from other people who suffer from the same phenomena. It will help substantiate my understanding of how these things works and potentially take us out of the dark on this matter cause I know how it feels when you feel you are all alone with this and no one understands you.

    If you feel like contributing your data for this research or to share your thoughts or ask questions, I invite you to get in touch with me at dduenias@yahoo.com.

    Good luck to you with your sound diffusion…:)

    1. This is all good, and I also have a sensitive to sharp, sudden sounds that make me startle and nearly go into a panic attack. But not everyone has the same noise processing issue as you. I hate all noise in general. I hate the radio. I hate fans. I can’t stand the sound of a TV coming from another room. When people are conversing, I can’t tolerate people who are loud or talk too fast. Sometimes I can’t stand hearing conversations period. Especially when there are multiple people talking at the same time.

  2. I have had an issue where everything is too loud to me in general, like the TV or music that’s in a room but not on earphones. I know there are two separate hearing issues-one makes veryday life sound loud, the other makes people enraged or upset at specific sound types. I seem to have both at once! In general I feel like everything is too loud even things I am never annoyed by such as rock music which I love, or TV shows I like, or my dog other talking. Loud, but not making me hateful at all. Then there are certain sounds that send me off the deep ends. People talk so loud, certain ones more than others, in public and on transit, makes me want to go over and just punch them. All my life even as a child I have despised babies. When I hear a baby cry, or babble or talk or even laugh, It makes me suddenly enraged and homicidally upset. I never knew why but I don’t act on what I feel or I would certainly be in prison! Its like a hundred evil thoughts in one seconds time about how I hate children and babies, I hate people who have a child and why would anyone want one? I wish I could shut the thing UP and beat its mother to death just for not shutting it up herself immediately etc. Etc. Until it stops, or I plug my ears with music, I will not be ok again. Another thing that makes me this angry is loud rap music. I do not simply hate rap, but it sends me into a uncontrollable rage inside. So doeslous talking. I want to shut the person up NOW even if that required me to tear out their throat. So I have to sit there and tell myself people are Morons and I can’t stop them or act on it because laws protect idiots etc. I have no criminal history at all. But maybe one time my control will fail. Who knows the future. As far as General noises or everyday sound- those do not make me angry, they are simply all way louder to me that to those around me and I tell people how loud the TV is or how loud the cars are and no one agrees. However background noise is my best friend, fans on all the time drown out the sharper stuff I hate. White noise Calms me and music that I LIKE, played on earbuds that drown out the rest of the world calms me completely. On the bus I must do this or I hate everyone near me. And the earbud music on a bit loud doesn’t bug me one bit because only music played in a room alongside the usual room sounds it talking freaks me out. Earbud music is just fine. I never know why this is. Just like I have no idea why babies send me into a rage that’s even harsher than I feel toward people who have actually harmed me directly. No idea. But I clearly have both disorders. Right now the TV is on pretty low yet it’s blasting loud to my ears I had to insert earbuds without listening to anything, just used like earplugs, so I can stay in the room and watch the show and not freak out with a headache. Everyone else says they can hardly hear it. Also modern movies make the dialogue so quiet and the soundtrack so insanely loud, it is horrific. I have to adjust the volume 50 times per film just to hear it all but not the music. What’s wrong with these filmmakers? Shut the music UP and tell you boom operator to get closer to the talking.

  3. hi, I would not normally call myself sensitive to noise but due to sleep deprivation 13 months I am at the crisis stage needing rest. Neighbour abuse, tell yon all night at a pitch she knows disrupts my sleep. Breach of six terms of her tenancy, the Director of Housing just gave her carte blanche to continue disturbing my sleep (torturing me, in my experience). The constant low hum of a television is driving me insane. I also suffer with Complex PTSD, and can not get out of the house to access the service I was linked to (and have had to let me go). All I want is some quiet, but I have come to realise that quiet is outlawed. I used to have a quiet bedroom but apparently my neighbour has more rights to have telly on all night (which she denies and the Director believes without evidence) whilst I have no rights to a quiet bedroom to sleep, despite being disabled and sick with m h difficulties and chronic pain (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome), therefore needing bed rest daytimes as well, due to the sleep deprivation making it worse.

    1. Shar, my heart goes out to you: I am stuck in a room in a house with so many people and so much noise, it’s like 10 Grand Central Stations in one. I, too, am severely sleep deprived (10.5 + months) and at wit’s end.

    2. Shar, oh my goodness, but you could be me!! I too am finding that I cannot sleep many nights because of a neighbor. From Nov 28-Dec 28, 2017, I lived in a senior apt and had to leave and return to my mobile home in a senior park here in Leesburg, FL. At that senior apt, the mgmt allowed the old couple to play their TV with surround sound nearly 24/7 — I was told they had 7 speakers w/subwoofer. I found after less than one week, I was not sleeping and reported sleep-deprivation to the mgmt. They told me I must be overly-sensitive to sounds, that no one had complained previously. I told them I could explain no one else complaining although there was that night at 11pm when I stepped into the hallway to ascertain the sound and heard a woman yell from down that hall, “turn that thing off already.” And, the day I was packing my car, a male resident from the 1st floor stopped me to ask why I was moving … come to find out that he too, from 3 floors down, had been hearing that TV + surround sound more loudly from 2am-5am!! Well, I am back in the senior park and seem to have become a bit more sensitive to low frequency sounds at night. I have been experiencing such a noise in the am hours, 1am-7am, and had to go outside several times this past week to nail down the origination. Come to find out, I was aware of this sound during the past 2+ years I’ve lived here. I suspected where it might be originating … but didn’t come outside to find the source. 2 doors down from me, an older woman says her TV in the back bedroom is her pacifier and runs it throughout the sleeping hours and then cranks up the volume on the TV in the living room. I am hearing it now!

  4. Why the loud noise from tv annoys me and drive me crazy. The same when people around me talking all at the same time. I can’t stand it. Its getting into my nerves. Eversince when I was a kid when I watched tv its in the lowest volume like about 3-6. And the other members of the family 1-100 volume its on 60+ and I swear it drives me nuts. Oh I almost forgot. I also hate the sound of running water from the faucet.

  5. I really hate the sound of rooster.. Since i was a child.. It’s just not hate the sound but its really annoyed me than other people. Some neighbors have roosters and annoyed me so much. Always, a year or more.. Now im at 26yo.. I always wear earbuds at home.. Except night.. And i also hate the sound of laugh tracks but now it getting worse, people laugh annoying me too.. Except they laugh with me. But it’s annoying.. I always hate the show that use laugh track and i avoid watching movie in crowded time ..

    1. They are actually two different things. Hyperacusis refers to a lower tolerance for sound (so reporting sounds as being “too loud” in the 70dcb area rather than the 95-100dcb area) while misophonia is an intense dislike for a specific sound, type of sound, or group of sounds.

  6. I’ve spent 27 years moving from place to place in search of a quiet place to live. I’m unable to find it. I’m extremely resentful. To the degree which I am having a hard time sleeping. Seeing everyone driving around so happy just enrages me, knowing that where I live used to be a beautiful, quiet coastal town. I just don’t know what to do. I can’t keep moving. I am now in my 60’s. I sometimes wear earplugs. But I didn’t move here not to hear the birds and wind. I hate cars and jets. I just wish they’d all drop dead.

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