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What is Phonophobia?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2016
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Phonophobia, or ligyrophobia, is the fear of loud sounds or even one's own voice. Like many types of phobias, this condition is usually accompanied by anxiety, fast heartbeat, nausea, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, and dry mouth. In general, it is characterized by a feeling of terror or panic regarding loud noises, often resulting in avoidance of such sounds when possible. Unfortunately, some severe cases include fear of one's own voice, the voices of other people, or other sounds that are usually unavoidable in life. Therefore, phonophobia often prevents the afflicted from having a normal life unless treatment is sought.

One of the most common causes of phonophobia is a traumatic event, which is known for creating a feeling of anxiety when it comes to loud sounds. In fact, negative events experienced at a young age are often responsible for the development of various phobias, not just this one. Of course, some people with this condition are genetically predisposed to it, as it may run in the family, so it is not always necessary to have experienced a traumatic event to suffer from phonophobia. In some cases, the cause of this condition is a mixture of brain chemistry, genetics, and past events that come together to create this and other phobias.

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It is considered normal to be startled by sudden loud sounds, or even dislike them altogether, but it is not healthy to live in fear of most noises. The usual symptoms of this condition vary depending on the severity of the case, but most people with phonophobia experience feelings of anxiety thinking about the possibility of loud sounds. This is usually accompanied by physical symptoms like dry mouth, rapid breathing, fast heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and even the temporary inability to speak. Some people can deal with such symptoms when they are rare, as they may only occur with sudden loud sounds, but those afraid of voices or other more common noises often struggle more.

There are medications available to treat phobias, but they tend to only treat the symptoms, not the underlying fear. Additionally, anti-anxiety medications that may be prescribed often come with undesirable side effects. Therefore, many people prefer to try counseling that involves behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, exposure therapy, or hypnotherapy. Relaxation techniques can also be used to eliminate the anxiety that is often responsible for phonophobia. While it is normal to try out several of these treatments to find one that works, it is important to use a professional for each method.

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anon308173
Post 4

I have noise problems. I live near a subway and it gives me anxiety which drives me crazy. I am crying and sleeping with ear muffs, but it doesn't help. I will need to move.

anon277608
Post 3

How can I overcome my fear of the sound of fireworks and other loud bangs? I freak out if and when I hear a very large bang or boom, even if it's a backfire or something. I had something bad happen when I was younger. My biological father shot off a gun in the trailer I was living in.

JaneAir
Post 2

@Azuza - Phobias in general aren't very easy to deal with, but you're right, this sounds like an especially difficult one. I actually struggle with a phobia myself (bees and wasps are my personal kryptonite), so I know how difficult it can be.

I've actually been considering hypnotherapy, which is supposed to be good for bug related phobias. Based on this article it sounds like it's recommended for other kinds of phobias too. I've personally tried counseling, but it just didn't work. My phobia didn't come for a traumatic event, so the counseling was pretty useless in my case.

Azuza
Post 1

Wow! This sounds like a horrible phobia to be afflicted with. There are some phobias that are a lot more manageable, like the fear of flying or something like that. You could easily avoid flying, but you can avoid noises. Even if you stay in your house all the time, you could still be exposed to a loud noise! Man, I really feel for phonophobics.

I feel like if you start exhibiting this kind of phobia, you should seek treatment immediately. I know some types of anxiety (like agoraphobia) can worsen over time. It seems like someone would have a better chance of reducing their phobia if they started treatment right away.

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