Triggers For Noise Anxiety
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated September 09, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: April Brewer , DBH, LPC
It is completely natural to jump at a loud and sudden noise, but it is an entirely different thing when you are troubled with noise anxiety. People living with noise anxiety, other anxiety disorders, or mental health issues should be aware of this and how to best protect themselves. This is why knowing the triggers for noise anxiety is so critical.
This type of anxiety disorder is defined as an intense awareness of noise and is generally caused by some sort of trauma or a combination of stress and anxiety associated with a particular sound; a fight-flight response is also common when faced with noise anxiety. Getting to the bottom of this trauma or stress which in turn leads to negative reactions is possible; however, understanding anxiety disorders, noise anxiety, etc. will make a difference.
A Quick Word on Anxiety Disorders
If you are someone who struggles with anxiety disorders, you need to know that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. An anxiety disorder doesn’t make you less of a human being or detract from your worth in any way. Anxiety and depression can be tough to deal with; as can other mental health issues; however, when you know and understand the symptoms of intense awareness of noise, you can begin taking steps forward.
Symptoms of Noise Anxiety
Symptoms for noise anxiety range from being uncomfortable with a certain noise to being irritable, angry, aggressive, and even violent. Emotions heighten each time the sound is heard; this can especially happen when one experiences ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus. Tinnitus can last for varying amounts of time; left unchecked, it can also worsen anxiety and depression, the nervous system, and mental health.
This results in large bouts of stress and anger. In addition, a person’s cognitive functioning could be temporarily delayed or impaired, threshold to noise could negatively impact sleep patterns, blood pressure levels could increase, and there could be an increase in mood shifts and the onset of other mental health conditions, such as depression disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder. While noise anxiety can feel overwhelming, there is much you can do to find relief from your symptoms.
Misophonia is present when someone is especially sensitive to noise and undergoes negative reactions as a result. Some studies into mental health, regions of the brain, and noise sensitivity have determined that misophonia can indicate the presence of autism; however, not everyone who suffers from noise anxiety or misophonia is autistic.
Learning Triggers for Noise Anxiety
Any sound connected with a traumatic event can be triggers for noise anxiety. And anyone can develop a fear of loud noises just as anyone can grow anxious over long periods of silence. Understanding individual triggers for noise anxiety involves a deep dive into mental health, emotional responses, and even physical symptoms that may present themselves. Of course, no two people experience anxiety disorders in the same way; not all anxiety related struggles have the same outward manifestations.
There are some individuals who are triggered by multiple sounds simultaneously or multiple people talking in the same room at the same time. Noises that are repetitive, hurtful, and out of the listener’s control can also pose as triggers.
Any sound in the general population can have an influence on a person, yet some people are more prone to noise anxiety than others. In order for someone who struggles with an anxiety disorder like noise anxiety to have the best public health possible, an awareness of their triggers is going to be very important. Research shows that therapy can help alleviate symptoms of many types of anxiety.
Naturally, those who suffer from a prior existing condition of anxiety are more likely to develop noise anxiety than those who are not struggling with the condition. It’s also been shown that women and introverts are more likely to develop noise anxiety.
Though noise anxiety triggers vary with each person, some examples can include voices, televisions, clocks, certain animals, indoor or outdoor neighborhood noises, traffic noises, industrial noises, railway noises, emergency vehicle siren noises, or aircraft noises.
How to Treat Noise Anxiety
When dealing with anxiety disorders such as noise anxiety, it’s important to know that there are multiple paths to improving your mental health. Noise anxiety can come with various triggers, responses, and feelings. How you deal with an anxiety disorder like noise anxiety may vary from someone else’s response or coping mechanisms…and that’s OK. Ultimately, treating noise anxiety and improving your mental health will require finding solutions.
An obvious solution is wearing earplugs. However, what do you when experiencing an unexpected trigger to loud noise? Do you react in a healthy or unhealthy way?
- Do you ever experience a strong, overwhelming sense of stress or panic accompanied by feelings of irritability, fear, or anger when you hear certain sounds or noises?
- Do sounds such as slurping, sniffing, chewing, crunching, coughing, tapping, clapping trigger a strong emotional reaction?
- Do you or have you ever felt a strong or aggressive urge to lash out or escape when you hear the sound or loud noise?
- Do you or have you ever tried to avoid social gatherings, make excuses to leave social gatherings often, or worried about going to places to avoid the triggers of the sounds or noises?
- Is the discomfort you experience when you hear the triggering sounds or noises worse when it comes from your partner, or a close family member, friend, or coworker?
- Is the discomfort you experience hearing certain trigger sounds heightened when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or exhausted from daily or life commitments?
If you answered mostly “yes” to the above questions, you may suffer from noise anxiety. Some proactive ways to counter noise anxiety are:
Try to prepare for the hypothetical “Next Time.” Create a coping plan just in case you experience these symptoms again in the future. A coping plan can truly work wonders for your mental health. Sometimes, noise anxiety is an extension of depression and anxiety or another matter altogether. By preparing for the hypothetical “next time,” you can save yourself from negative emotional responses and feelings.
Know what your triggers are. Once you’re able to identify your triggers, you may be able to avoid them. If you aren’t able to avoid the sounds and noises that trigger you, then you can attempt to block the unwanted noise with earplugs or headphones. It’s also important to remember that different regions of the brain can be impacted by various triggers; knowing what your triggers are can help avoid disturbances to your nervous system, blood pressure, etc.
Analyze your state of mind. Once you identify your triggers, it’s time to check in with your mood in regard to the sound or noise level sensitivity. Are you able to tolerate the noise, or is it time to implement self-care? Believe it or not, your state of mind can be quite telling when faced with a certain noise level, white noise, etc. By understanding what your mood towards noise sensitivity, you can learn a lot about what you’re dealing with.
Identify the intention behind the sound. If a person is the source of the sound, consider if it’s an intentional effort to bother you. You’ll also want to consider whether or not this person knows that noise anxiety is something that bothers you. If someone is not aware that noise sensitivity is an issue, letting them know that you’re sensitive to noise can be helpful. From there, this person should work on reducing your exposure to noise when you’re around them.
Have designated safe zones. Plan ahead and identify safe quiet zones in your home, at your workplace, or when entering into unfamiliar environments. Setting aside designated safe zones is imperative to your mental health. If you are someone who struggles with anxiety disorders, depression, and anxiety, high blood pressure, etc., then safe zones will certainly make a positive difference. Along with your designated safe zone, you should have relaxation techniques that are soothing and calming for you.
Counter negative emotions. To counteract negative emotions, try redirecting your focus to noises you find more pleasant or are associated with fonder memories. This can be a great method to quickly diminish noise anxiety and improve your cognitive, emotional, and physical functioning. In certain regards, focusing on pleasant noises or noises with positive memories can be a sort of sound therapy. Countering negative emotions can not only work wonders for your mental health, but it can also lessen episodes linked to anxiety and depression.
Implement relaxation techniques. Many individuals who experience elevated anxiety symptoms often try to use relaxation coping techniques to provide immediate relief. Relaxation techniques may include deep breathing, grounding techniques, meditation, or imagery. If you are new to using these techniques, you can use apps like HeadSpace or Insight Timer to learn meditation techniques. These are great to access quickly in the midst of your anxiety and also to help you learn how to implement the practice on your own.
The above-mentioned coping techniques could be implemented on your own. However, if you are finding it difficult to successfully implement these proactive techniques alone or would like to rid of the problem altogether, it may be best to speak with a licensed mental health professional, such as a therapist at BetterHelp.
Working with a therapist can play a vital role in your mental health. Many people who have struggled with depression and anxiety, noise sensitivity, or various other mental health issues have benefited from therapy. Unlike traditional forms of in-person therapy, you can work with a BetterHelp therapist from anywhere in the world, even if you do not currently have health insurance.
By using the virtual platform to connect with a therapist, you can have access to a qualified therapist via your mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. During a counseling session, you and your therapist will determine the source of your triggers and develop solutions to reduce or eliminate the stress.
The fear of noise may not have emerged from the noise itself but from a reminder or memory. For some individuals, the root cause may not be easily recognizable, which is why working with a professional can be so beneficial. If you’re curious about working with a BetterHelp professional, below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
As a side note, it’s important to note that the process of mental health support may not always be a smooth walk in the park. Sometimes anxiety and depression, anxiety disorders, etc. can stem from prior trauma or past memories. When faced with this part of mental health support, working through things at your own pace will ultimately make a great difference. For the best results, consider looking at some of the BetterHelp counselors and determining which one will be the greatest fit for you.
“Rachael is a very strong support, especially during tough, high-stress times, as she ensures and maintains a non-judgemental stance. She confidently shares her advice and recommendations to attempt to de-escalate the situation at hand and discusses and agrees on next best steps to move forward. I would highly recommend her as she has been very kind and understanding.”
“Sam has been tremendously helpful to me, and I am so thankful that BetterHelp paired me with him. In just a few sessions, Sam has helped me get to the root of long-running anxieties, and because of our conversations, I am already living a less anxious and more joyful life. I appreciate that he offers his insights and impressions of what I’m dealing with, but he never pushes his views above what feels true to my experience. I trust him and feel I have made profound progress with his help.”
Conclusion And Final Thoughts - Noise Anxiety
The key to improving your state of mind is seeing things in proper context. Talking things over with a therapist can help you keep your mental clarity and perspective even during the most stressful anxiety-producing moments.
No matter what mental health issues or anxiety disorders you may be up against, it’s important for you to know that you are not alone. No matter how things may seem, each member of the general population is dealing with issues of their own. Whether these issues pertain to mental health, anxiety and depression, cardiovascular disease, or something else entirely, none of us are alone in facing certain obstacles. By working with a mental health specialist, you can truly begin to overcome challenges and make the rest of your life the best of your life.
Take the first step of overcoming anxiety - sign up for therapy at BetterHelp.
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