Cognitive behavioral therapy, white noise generators used as defenses against misophonia

I finally went to my misophonia appointment, where I received some good news, and some bad news. Let’s have the good news first. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and this was my first time seeking help for misophonia.

Although misophonia is currently incurable, I learned about cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as a new technology I wasn’t aware of for blocking trigger noises. Apparently, people with misophonia generally do about 12 visits with a therapist to go through the CBT, which helps them develop coping strategies for dealing with trigger sounds.

I could definitely use that. The bonus is that CBT can be done with any therapist, as long as they get educated about misophonia as they are working with you.

I have a doctor appointment with my primary care physician this week, and I plan to ask her to refer me to a good cognitive behavioral therapist so I can try to start that. I haven’t checked with my health insurer to see how much of that therapy would be covered, though. That might be an issue for me if it costs too much.

This resembles the in-ear white noise generator I saw during my appointment with a misophonia specialist.

Then there’s the bad news. Sort of. I also learned about in-ear white noise generators. They were pretty amazing. They are like hearing aids, but instead of helping you hear, they help you NOT hear your trigger noises. They emit white noise into your ear, which helps drown out trigger sounds while giving your ears something constant to engage with. They also can be turned up and down with a small wheel that hangs over the back of your ears, and the device is nearly invisible.

The bad news is they cost $2,400. So… that won’t be happening for me any time soon. If someone with misophonia can afford this type of white noise generator, I’d be really curious to know how they work for you. Would they really drown out all the triggers — even loud pops made by chewing gum, or a metal spoon clanking against a ceramic bowl? I’m a bit skeptical.

I found some less expensive white noise generators online, but some appear to block the entire ear canal; they seem basically like an ear plug with a white noise speaker in them. Those seem cool, but the beauty of the pricey in-ear white noise generator is that it doesn’t block the entire ear canal — meaning you can still hear the noises you want to, such as a friend talking to you.

The closest alternative to the $2,400 model I found online costs around $400 for both ears. I am not sure whether they are near the same quality as the $2,400 model recommended by the misophonia specialist I saw.

Here are some other models I found online. I honestly have no idea how well they work, but I figured I pass the information along anyway.

I also had my hearing checked and discovered I have impeccable hearing, which is fairly common for people with misophonia, according to the specialist I saw. I was surprised by this because I’ve spent many years blasting music into my ears through headphones, and I’ve attended countless concerts that have left my ears ringing for hours. I never cared about damaging my ears, and I secretly hoped I would make myself slightly hard of hearing as a way to help me escape my condition. I guess that didn’t work.

I’ll post an update once I know about any cognitive behavioral therapy sessions I might have. Thanks for all of the comments on my posts. It’s been really great hearing other people’s experiences with misophonia.

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40 responses

  1. Aoife (pronounced Ee-fa) | Reply

    I wanted to thank you so much. I’m 14 years old and I’ve been suffering through misophonia for as long as I can remember. I didn’t realize it was a problem for a while, but no one else thought my sister, Saoirse’s loud, obnoxious chewing was a problem, or when people would gulp their water, or the weird, disgusting spitty noises people make, etc. I looked it up and came across your blog thing-y. I talked to my mam and long story short thank you for letting me know I’m not crazy, just misophonic.

    – Aoife

  2. I really need this my misophonia has gotten so bad I can barely leave my room and if I do I have to have headphones in with white noise blasting. I just wish I was either dead or deaf I can’t stand it anymore. A few says ago I was about to stab a screwdriver in my ear to make myself deaf but I broke down crying before I could do it. My life is ruined because it mad me have severe anxiety and depression. I can’t be near my dad,brother,sister, or mom without getting super angry at them and crying and punching walls I’ve dealt with this for 3 years and I just can’t do it anymore. I see a therapist about this but I don’t want to ask unless I know insurance covers it because we don’t have a lot of money. Does insurance cover it?

    1. I think that’s something you would have to check with your insurance company about. I haven’t tried to get insurance to help out with any of my treatments. If anyone else knows, please chime in.

  3. I am a thirteen year old living with misophonia. It is hard. I told my mom and she is very understanding but sometimes she feels like I’m overeggaterating because she doesn’t completely understand. It has ruined my relationship with my dad and sometimes I find myself hating him and my sister. I was so glad to find out I wasn’t the only one that this happens to.

  4. Could you post a link for the $2400 model?

    1. I don’t have a link for it. That was a quote given to me by Dr. Marsha Johnson at the time I spoke to her, which was some years ago now. Here’s her site: http://www.tinnitus-audiology.com/

  5. I thought that it was me that was loosing it.. but now after I have found it can be common for people dealing with misophonia i am reliefed.. I live in a neighbourhood where the boy living behind us had been playing basketball over the last 3 years. The sound has instantly made me feel hate, anger and wanting to harm the family who put i up. The reaction comes just as i hear the ball bounce. It has been a nightmare for me and still is. Now i have tried to explain them the problem and i hope ot will help. I do not like to walk around at home and fear when the sound comes. Really it is pure hate that the sound eroses.. thank you for this site. So glad to see i am not alone and that i am kind of normal:-)

  6. I know this is four years out from the original post, but I have the GHI Tranquil Simplicity white noise generators (the $2400 ones). While they left a dent in my wallet, I feel much, much more confident about my misophonia throughout my day to day life. One important note is that they are not supposed to be used to cover up triggers. I repeat: they are NOT for covering up triggers. They are part of my rehabilitation therapy with the University of Maryland. I set the volume in the morning and leave it for the rest of the day. The white noise acts as a sound with neutral attachment, which lessens the negative attachment to trigger sounds over time. My audiologist has had great success with this treatment technique, which lasts around a year.

  7. what really bites is when you have misophonia and your dad has tourettes….. our relationship is not very good to begin with .. when he is in my presence i am constantly stressed out, anxious, and ready to strangle him ..oh ive contemplated it . ( each tick is as if i am a sleeping bear and his tick is an annoying child with a stick…. poking me… and poking me until i decide I WANT TO MAUL YOUR FLESH OFFF though i find myself wanting to rip my own skin off) ugh……. that white noise generator for your ear would a godsend :’)

  8. Erickson Winter | Reply

    Like Neece I have found that I prefer brown noise, but think that it would be worth knowing if what preference the wearer prefers is available. My Audiologist also suggested some $3000 ear devices a couple years ago like the one above and I can’t really afford that and worry that it might not even work. However, she did mention that by law if they do not work, the selling company is required to take them back for a full refund within I think 30 days. I don’t know if it has to be classified somehow for that to be true, but if someone is looking then it may be worth asking if this is true for the ear device in question.

    Over the years I have found that music is more effective than white/brown/red/pink/color noise…well, music that I’m familiar with at least (and typically music that is more constant and doesn’t have lots of pauses or silent parts). I’m not sure anyone else has found this to be true, but if I am able to put music in at least 1 ear then many trigger noises are reduced or avoided. It’s a bit awkward to have co-workers talk to me with my headphones partially on, but they generally seem consent with my excuse of, “it’s a hearing thing”. Funny thing is that they typically speak more quietly…perhaps it’s subtle passive aggression to cause some discussion. Anyway, reducing triggers allows me to concentrate more so I can actually hear better so I don’t really mind.

    Thanks for pursuing solutions and this blog!

  9. I only found out about misophonia about a year ago. I think it was actually on Pinterest. I thought it was just me being crazy and overly sensitive. My misophonia has forced me to end relationships. I never did find a solution when I learned about it.

    When I hear people eat, I also want to murder them with an axe. I have basically become a hermit and avoid leaving my house as much as possible. It causes me so much anxiety and panic.

    Just knowing it has a name and that I’m not alone is really helpful. 🙂

    I’ve tried earplugs (to the point that I actually got some silicone stuck in my ear and had to have it surgically removed when I was younger) but I still need to hear people talk. I just can’t take the mouth noises. And if they are chewing gum, I find I immediately hate them. I can’t help it. I want to just kill people. It’s so bad! Usually I’ve just avoided them at all costs.

    Anyway, my poor beleaguered husband and I were thinking about what I can do for the few times I leave the house, or when he and I eat dinner together (he has to sit really far away from me and we have to blast the TV. Sigh) and he said I needed the opposite of what gun people use. I need to dull the sound and create white noise to help give my ears something to do. I’ve heard when you just use earplugs, it actually makes misophonia worse, and in my experience I’d agree.

    In my search this evening, I found this wonderful blog (thanks!) and I also found this wonderful free sound generator: http://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/whiteNoiseGenerator.php

    The great thing is it has lots of different color noise. I’ve found I prefer brown noise, as white noise can be a bit irritating in pitch. So I thought I’d share it here. They also have a free iPhone App at that site. It has binaural beats as well, and the sounds seem really nice.

    I really do want in ear white noise plugs though. So thanks for getting me started on my search and for reminding me I’m not alone and I’m not crazy. (Well, okay, I am crazy, but this is a real thing!)

    I did find this site: http://www.earplugstore.com/in-ear-white-noise.html

    which sells in ear white noise generators. I think they would make it hard to hear people talking and things you need to hear though. I just thought I’d share it. Their return policy isn’t that great either, actually.

    I’m going to try that iTunes App from the site I linked to above. I’ve been using it while doing more research to write this email and it’s pretty nifty, especially since you can adjust the sound. 🙂

    Thanks again for writing this blog! 🙂

  10. I use this at work and haven’t downloaded the app at this point: http://www.simplynoise.com/

  11. I found something that really helps. Two cups of chamomile tea every day! I originally started taking it for hyperhidrosis, but I quickly found that it helps with misophonia too! I can now hear people eat without wanting to murder them with an axe. It still bothers me, but no where near as much as it used to,.. it’s like I’m a normal person again, haha. Oh, it helps with hyperhidrosis too. I think it helps with misophonia because it’s a calming tea, like natures natural valium.

  12. I’m really thankful for your work here. I appreciate every minute you’ve spent writing these strangely soothing words.
    I’ve spent a couple of hours now reading about Misophonia and many tears have fell because I felt understood and not alone in this for the first time.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Have you thought of translating your blog into other languages? I’m from a spanish speaking country and some of the people I love don’t have a good comprehension when reading english. In my experience, this is a very hard topic to discuss and understand (I almost feel like this is like coming out of the closet when you’re gay) so I think it’d be a good idea. What do you think? I can help!

    1. Hi Cla. That would be really cool to have my blog translated to Spanish so others can access it. If you have time and would like to volunteer to translate a post or two, feel free. You can email me the translations to: mymisophonia@gmail.com, and I can put them on the blog!

      1. I would love to translate some of your articles to Italian (my mother language) some day. Unfortunately, there is next to nothing about misophonia in Italian. I have had it for more than 21 years now (I am almost 27), thinking I was just crazy/mean for the most part, until I had the fabulous idea of googling my symptoms in English, some years ago. Heh. Most Italians don’t speak English though 😦 and I doubt I am the only one in the country (although I used to think I was the only one in the world…)

        Anyway! Thank you so much for this blog 🙂 I reallllly appreciate everything you do.

  13. I would think that a white-noise device would really upset someone with misophonia. I really have to have silence around me and any little noise upsets me. For example, for me to think straight, I cannot have a fan going or an air filter – anything like that, some things that most people consider great white noise.

    1. Interesting. I think trigger sounds are varied for people with misophonia. I find that a fan helps drown out some of the noised I don’t like, but it sounds like you have a different experience. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    2. Melinda I am the same way I cannot concentrate or sleep if there is any noise. I did find myself helped by an app named relax melodies, I put it on through my headphones and used a binaural beat. It has done wonders for me.

    3. Wow I’ve never heard someone having white noise be a trigger for misophonia

  14. Could I ask what the brand is of the $2,400 device the specialist recommended?

  15. I had an appt with an audiologist/misophonia “specialist” today. She didn’t really enlighten me a whole lot on this condition. She suggested the same two things listed in your article: the $2500 sound generators and the CBT. I cannot afford the $2500 right now, and like you, I’m skeptical if they really will help counteract those awful trigger noises. I believe CBT can be helpful in some cases, but I’m not convinced it would help with misophonia. I honestly cannot help my physical reactions to certain sounds. It is involuntary and overwhelming. I can’t “think” myself out of it. I’d like to know how it has helped others.

    1. Thanks for your question. I think we must have gone to the same audiologist! That sounds spot on. I am just starting CBT, and I’ll admit I am skeptical about it. CBT is typically for people with mood disorders like depression and anxiety and misophonia does not feel like a mood disorder to me. It’s something much more physical. I’m sorry I don’t have more of an answer. Maybe someone who has done CBT for longer than I have can give us some insight as to how it helps. I know it doesn’t make the misophonia go away, but it supposedly helps one cope better with having misophonia.

      1. Well I have seen a psychologist for various things since 2009, so I know what CBT is. We have already worked on things in regard to sounds in my workplace (which is so overwhelming I am currently on a medical leave of absence!). Including taking breaks/walks, wearing earphones listening to music, creating peaceful time for myself, etc. However all of these things do not stop or make the physical reactions to trigger sounds go away. It’s only a form of “dealing” with them which for the most part means my removing myself (fight or flight) from the situation. For people who have never had CBT maybe this is a step, but for me, I already know these things. If I am in a noisy place (one of my worst triggers), I cannot think myself better, I just have to get away.

        I was extremely disappointed in my visit to this “specialist” (audiologist). She didn’t explain misophonia, have any true diagnostics, or even tell me what she thought other than wanting me to buy these $2500 earbuds.

        I had more luck talking to an occupational therapist who specializes in Sensory Integration. This was my first eye opener to my “condition”. She only treats children, but she was very informative in wanting to help me.
        http://www.pdc-atlanta.com/content/sensory-integration

        She has suggested some sound therapy which is supposed to create new neuropathways in the brain. She explains it as how the brain processes sounds, so it only makes sense to treat the brain, not just put expensive earbuds in your ear to “mask” the issue (although if it provides relief, then I guess it’s worth it). The sound therapy she recommended is http://easecd.com/. It is a heck of a lot cheaper than the sound generating earbuds. I haven’t tried any sound therapy yet, but I’m planning on it.

    2. Thank you for sharing!!! Its good to see someone explain how I feel

  16. We just visited an audiologist for my daughter who has this issue. She recommended the in-ear white noise generator and the cognitive therapy. Do you have any feedback on the less expensive options of the ear pieces? We are unable to afford the $2,000 model but she really liked it and thinks it will help! Thanks for any advice!

    1. You know, I really haven’t used the white noise generators for the ear yet. I just found some models online that I included in my post. I can’t afford those fancier ones either! And I’m not even sure I want to spend money on the cheaper models. Maybe you could start with using an iPod or mp3 player and download some white noise tracks and listen to them through earphones to see if white noise helps you. If that’s good at blocking your trigger noise, maybe you could then test out one of the cheaper in-ear white noise generators and perhaps even find one that you can use for just a trial period before buying? Sorry I can’t be more helpful. Good luck to you! Please report back if you do end up buying an in-ear model. I’m sure many people would like to hear about your experience.

  17. margaret lerner | Reply

    I thought I was crazy my WHOLE life!! Thank you for this blog. You cannot believe what my family has to do to accomodate me! And GOD forbid if there are any gum-snappers in the area!! I will be looking into some of these therapies ASAP esp the white noise generators! thanks again!

  18. The use of cognitive behavior therapy as an adjunct to the white noise device, can be done by a competent licensed counselor in your state. A specially designed treatment plan focusing on your unique triggers and coping strategies would be the specifics of the TP. CB is needed as you still need to function in an environment that you can’t fully control other people’s actions, such as the work setting.
    The Counselor with the closest experience(due to this being a rare disorder) is one that has a history of treating OCD clients.

    By the way, I just found out I have a member of my family has this condition.

    Felix V..Licensed Counselor in Austin, Texas

    1. Very cool to hear from you Felix. Thanks so much for the additional information. It is nice to hear from a health care professional who is taking the condition seriously and is offering advice. Best of luck to you and your family member with misophonia. It really is a condition that impacts the whole family, from my experience.

  19. I hope you’ve seen the other white noise generators that are much cheaper. Just search for “in ear white noise generator” on Google. They’re as low as $100.00. You can also get free white noise online and listen to it via your MP3 player. It helps mask my tinnitus, and sometimes I get relief from it one or two days later for one day. You might also get some help from the Martha Entenmann Tinnitus Research Center in Queens, NY.

    1. Hey, Lynette, thanks for the suggestions!

  20. Christa Schroeder | Reply

    i am receiving the sound generators in less than a week and am so looking forward to this…

    1. Very cool. If you have time, I would love to hear about how they work for you. It would be cool to get some type of review of the sound generators on my blog.

    2. How do you do wih your sound generator? Your name sounds german: Do you have any tips for me about experts in this region?

  21. That’s great that you found a doctor that can help you out. It’s too bad those things are so danged expensive. Holy smokes. I was wondering how they would work for someone like me who has severe issues with the pronunciation of s’s and t’s. How in the world would something like that work? I wonder if I’d be constantly playing with them to try to time it right so I wouldn’t hear those sounds. They are a very prominent part of our language. 😦

    I’m glad you’re finding some help for the Misophonia. Where I’m at it’s pretty limited. I have yet to talk to a therapist who even knows about it except for my counselor who is not trained in CBT.

    1. That’s a good question. I have no idea how they would work with those kind of sounds. I have another blog post about a website that provides contact information for misophonia specialists. It’s possible you could contact one of those specialists and see if they can provide a CBT therapist in your area with more information about misophonia. Worth a shot, at least. That’s what I’m trying to do.

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