ACOUSTICOPHOBIA (An Overview)

ACOUSTICOPHOBIA

In this blog, we will go through an overview Acousticophobia.

Acousticophobia is an intense fear of noise. This is an irrational fear that hinders the daily functioning of the individual suffering from it. The origin of the word acoustico is Greek (meaning to hear) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear).

Its cause may be rooted in the early childhood memories or could have been brought about an extremely unpleasant situation paired with a noise. It brings on a panic attack and instills anxiety in the person.

Phobias itself are defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, as extreme or irrational fears, often persistent, that compel sufferers to avoid the object or situation to which their fear is connected. A specific phobia relates to a particular stimulus that causes fear, anxiety or avoidance and results in intense distress for the sufferer.
ACOUSTICOPHOBIA (An Overview)

Acousticophobia is an irrational fear of noise. In Greek Acoustico means to ‘hear’ and Phobia is a word for ‘fear.’ The Acousticophobics either fear specific noises like the sound of gunfire, yelling or horns, or they fear noises in general to the extent that it brings on a panic attack or extreme anxiety.

SYMPTOMS OF ACOUSTICOPHOBIA

The symptoms of Acousticophobia resemble those of an anxiety attack. They may occur suddenly and without any prior notice. The symptoms are of 2 types:

  1. The PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS may include:
  • Rapid heartbeat (Tachycardia)
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Trembling 
  • Dry mouth
  • Hyperventilation 
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Ringing sound in ears
  1. The PSYCHOLOGICAL SYMPTOMS may include:
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of fainting
  • Withdrawn
  • Mood swings
  • Fear of dying
  • Feeling of helplessness
  • Feeling of hopelessness

ACOUSTICOPHOBIA (An Overview)

These symptoms leave the person with phobia totally out of sorts and ingrains in them an intense fear that will propel the sufferer to avoid the place with noise or in future even not leave the house in extreme cases. 

CAUSES OF ACOUSTICOPHOBIA

As is common in specific phobias, the cause of Acousticophobia may lie deep in the person’s childhood or its onset may be due to an environmental factor. Genetics also plays a pivotal role in the cause of developing Acousticophobia. 

Other causes can be as follow:

  • Learned behavior
  • Traumatic experiences

Etiological Models of Acousticophobia

  1. Biological (Genetic) Model

Genetics also determines how a person reacts and feels. Therefore, people inherit fears and phobias as well from their families. The brain cells (neurons) release certain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Serotonin and Dopamine are two neurotransmitters that in depleted state can cause anxiety like symptoms.

  1. Psychodiagnostics Model

If a person has suffered from a traumatic experience in early childhood it can have severe dire impact on his later life. 

It does happen that during childhood a traumatic experience or accident may have caused a loud noise that initiated a discomfort or a trauma in the child’s life. If the feelings at that time were repressed then in later life the repercussions would be Acousticophobia.

  1. Behavioral Model

According to this model, irrational fear of loud noises may be caused through behaviors that are learned by replication. Children often replicate unique behaviors of their adults, parents or a favorite aunt or uncle.

If there is a phobic present in the family then chances are higher that only by observing the child may develop fear of various noises. 

Families of persons suffering from Acousticophobia also make a lifestyle change. T.V cannot be watched above a certain volume, even gleeful yells or hoots of laughter are not allowed. 

ACOUSTICOPHOBIA (An Overview)

TREATMENTS OF ACOUSTICOPHOBIA

Anthophobia can be treated through different treatments. These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy (Systematic Desensitization), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR) and forms of meditation.

Let’s take a look at these forms of treatments.

1) Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

In CBT the therapist helps the client to alter his thoughts so that a desirable behavior can be achieved. This therapy is effective, because if the thoughts or cognitions alter then there will be a lasting impact on behavior.

The therapist helps the client to discover the reason for this thought, his behavior in regards to a particular fear or anxiety.

This therapy is goal oriented and short termed. Therefore, the results are seen soon. It changes the way a person thinks and feels. CBT does not focus on probing the past to resolve current problems, rather it concentrates on the present situation. Our thoughts determine how we act or react to certain stimuli and situations. 

Our thoughts determine how we act or react to certain stimuli and situations. Therefore, negative thoughts bring about a negative behavior response or an undesirable behavior. Whereas, positive thoughts propagate desirable and healthy attitude and response.

For the treatment of Acousticophobia, the therapist segregates the problem into parts. These may include: thoughts, feelings and actions. Realistic and unrealistic thoughts are then determined, so that the unrealistic thoughts are taken over by the more realistic thoughts.

The goal of therapy is the application of the learnt strategies to everyday life. The duration of treatment is short and the effects are long lasting.

2) Systematic Desensitization (Exposure)

This is one of the most common therapy used in treating phobias and an effective way to desensitize the patient. 

In this therapy the client with phobia is exposed to the phobic situation or stimulus gradually with varying durations of time. Every time the ‘exposure’ of the feared stimulus is increased.

In Acousticophobia the client is exposed to sounds of different noises first. For the fear to be invoked during therapy, the patient must be exposed to an intense stimulus (one that is feared).

It is a type of behavior therapy developed by Wolpe in the 1950s. The aim of Systematic Desensitization is to remove the ‘feared stimulus’ and substitute it with a ‘relaxation response.’

Initially a relaxation technique that involves deep breathing is taught to the client. Then the client is asked to present a list that has hierarchical presentation of his fears, starting from the least fear evoking situation to the most. 

The therapist takes the client through these situations via two methods:

a)     In vitro – where the feared sound is made to imagine

b)    In vivo – where the client hears the feared sound in reality

The exposure to the phobic stimulus is of varying durations, where the client exercises relaxation techniques and can revert to a previous non-threatening situation any time.

3. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

 MBSR involves being aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings and reducing the interference from around the environment. We do not pay attention to how we process the various stimuli that affect us. We do not process the way our bodies feel and respond, there is no focus on our thoughts and how these thoughts are influencing our emotions. 

In MBSR, the client is ‘woken up’ to actually experience the various senses. ‘Focus’ is the keyword!

In Acousticophobia treatment, the client is made conscious to pay attention to his thoughts when he is in the presence of the sound that he is afraid of. Awareness helps to alleviate the stress symptoms. 

Sounds that one hears are most of the times only heard without paying much attention to them. Therefore, listening to what we hear is the difference that MBSR brings about.

4. Meditation

The client is taught to pay attention to his breathing –inhalation and exhalation.

For meditation to be effective during treatment, the mind is cleared off all the clutter of random thoughts. The mind and body are made to be ‘in sync’ with each other, so that the feared stimulus does not invoke a negative thought. The client will meditate during the exposure to the feared sound/s and with practice either in imagery first will be able to relieve himself of the symptoms.  

5. Self-Help Groups

Self Help groups are an effective type of therapy, in which the client does not find himself as a lone sufferer. These groups are comprised of individuals who are afflicted with the same types of phobias. They come together to share their thoughts, experiences and their coping strategies.

This also helps in developing a ‘sense of I am not the only one’ suffering. Thus, the chances of self-improvement and catering to own anxieties for alleviations becomes effective.

ACOUSTICOPHOBIA (An Overview)

6. Changing Lifestyle

Breaking down the tedium of the daily, helps break down anxiety as well. 

• Take up jogging or go for daily walks:

Developing a walk routine can damper the way our negative thoughts control our behavior.

• Indulging in an exercise regime:

Vigorous exercise like aerobics has proved to reduce or alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Exercise helps the mind to cope with stress and stressful situations better. This is what the American Psychological Association has to say about inducting exercise to eliminate stress or phobias.

• Altering eating and drinking habits:

Cutting down on fatty foods and caffeine can improve self-image, that in turn leads to a raised self-esteem. This finally diminishes the symptoms of stress to a bare minimum. With high intake of caffeine, the body resembles a ‘fight or flight’ response, thus giving way to anxiety.

• Improving the sleep cycle:

When we get proper rest, our concentration improves and indulging in negatives lessens. In Acousticophobia, the client is asked to alter his sleeping patterns because the tired mind finds even the most benign sounds as jarring.

ACOUSTICOPHOBIA (An Overview)

7.         Psychiatric Medication 

There a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Acousticophobia are severe.

  1. Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs)

These are the ones that rid the patients from symptoms of anxiety and panic. The medicines include Xanax, Klonopin and others. These should only be taken after the consultation with the doctor and shouldn’t be initiated or discontinued as per personal discretion.

  1. Anti-depressants 

These medicines are not only used to treat depression, but also to alleviate the symptoms of Acousticophobia as well as other phobias. 

Medicines alone might not be as effective, but if used in conjunction with therapies then the results will be better. 

8.       Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This kind of therapy is used to regulate the emotions. A technique called “half-smiling” is used where the client is asked to lift the corners of his mouth when the feared thought comes to his mind. apart from this the mind is to be trained to refrain from thinking about the painful stimulus.

Coping Ahead is another technique in DBT that requires the client to sit quietly and think of the feared situation and strategize what he will do.

FAQs people indulge in about Acousticophobia

  1. What is Acousticophobia?

Acousticophobia is an irrational fear of noise/s. for example, traffic, whistles, horns, yelling or other noise.

  1. Why do people fear noises?

People fear noises because of their intensities or the loudness. But there are people who are afraid of noises due to environmental or genetic factor. Their fear is not rational and is called Acousticophobia.

  1. Do people fear only loud noises?

People who suffer from Acousticophobia are the ones who fear loud noise. Their fear is either genetic or embedded in a traumatic event.

  1. Is fear of loud noise the same as fear of music?

No. the fear of loud noise is called Acousticophobia, while the fear of music is called Melophobia.

  1. Can Acousticophobia be treated?

Yes. Acousticophobia can be treated through Psychotherapy, Self-Help skills and anti-anxiety medicines.

We are ever present to answer any query you might have.

Titles to read more from 

  • The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties, Third Edition by Ronald Manual Doctor, Ada P. Kahn, Christine A. Adamec
  • Phobias: Fighting the Fear By Helen Saul
  • Mastering Your Fears and Phobias: Therapist Guide By Michelle G. Craske, Martin M. Antony, David H. Barlow
  • Anxiety Disorders and Phobias: A Cognitive Perspective by Aaron Beck, Gary Emery, et al. | Jun 29, 2005
  • Overcoming Specific Phobia – Therapist Protocol: A Hierarchy and Exposure-Based Protocol for the Treatment of All Specific Phobias by Edmund J. Bourne PhD and Matthew McKay PhD | Aug 1, 1998

Citations 

  • www.apa.org
  • www.psychtimes.com
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – V
  • www.psychologytoday.com 
  • Anxiety Disorders and Phobias: A Cognitive Perspective by Aaron Beck, Gary Emery, et al. | Jun 29, 2005

ACOUSTICOPHOBIA (An Overview)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.