The sounds of babies and young children - whether they're screeching, or just happily playing - can be enough to put any adult on edge, but at what point does it become a cause for grave concern?
A dad has taken to Reddit seeking advice about his extreme reaction to the sounds of his young children, writing "I want to tear someone's head off", after only an hour of listening to his two-and-a-half-year-old and five-year-old children.
He begins, "First off, I plan on seeing a mental health professional about this. But I wanted to reach out to a community first to see if others have suffered from this and to try to find out what this even is."
He then details his problem. "I can wake up fresh, rested, and in a great mood. But within an hour of hearing them yelling, whining, crying, or sometimes even happily playing (loudly), I want to tear someone's head off. It's as though the sounds are directly agitating some part of my brain or my nervous system."
He has ways of easing the agitation, but this isn't always practical while caring for young children.
"I've found it helps if I sit quietly and cover/close my ears for a few minutes. Kinda resets something. Or of course if I just actually leave the house and then come back."
The dad asks for advice about whether this is a known condition, writing that he wants to be more present for his family.
"I want to be there for my kids and my wife without being so agitated all the time. I don't enjoy it. And my kids are actually better behaved than most so it's not like they're doing anything crazy. They're just being normal, if not more mild-mannered than normal kids."
Redditors, as always, are there to give advice.
"I think it's normal to despise the loud obnoxious whiny sounds of children right?"
Probably, but his violent urges might be a little beyond the normal realm of irritation.
Others have the same problem.
"This is why I've pretty much always owned noise cancelling headphones or ear buds since my son (who is now 15) was a baby. Because sometimes the noise just makes my eyeball twitch and it's worse than nails on a chalkboard," comments one person.
Another writes, "I get this feeling too. I actually thought about getting an Airbnb for like a week and still going to work just to get away."
One proposes an armchair diagnosis of misophonia, which the OP agrees with.
"This is called misophonia - extreme annoyance to certain sounds. I'd recommend looking at treatment options in your area," they suggest.
The OP replies, "Thank you for this. I read the Wikipedia page and it sounds very much like what I experience. It's awful having violent urges towards my children for just talking loudly. And I also have it towards other sounds mentioned, like people eating loudly."
He edits his original post to write that he suspects a "sensory processing" issue and will try to seek help.
"It seems this may be sort of sensory processing thing. May try to see a neurologist as well."
According to Medical News Today, a person with misophonia's reaction to everyday sounds can be so powerful "it interferes with their ability to live life normally".
Given it is still considered a "newly identified health disorder", treatment options are quite limited.
Their tips for managing sound sensitivity include:
- using headphones and music to drown out trigger noises
- wearing earplugs to limit noise intrusion
- opting for seating on buses and in restaurants that distance trigger sounds
- practice self-care with rest, relaxation, and meditation to reduce stress
- when possible, leave situations where there are trigger sounds
- seek out a supportive doctor or therapist
- speak calmly and frankly with friends and loved ones to explain misophonia