Misophonia: Quirk of Human Behaviour or Mental Health Condition?

Introduction

By analogy with misogyny and misanthropy, misophonia ought to mean hatred of noise.

In fact, it is a recent coinage used to label the phenomenon of strong aversive reactions to sounds originating in other people’s oral or nasal cavities, such as chewing, sniffing, slurping, and lip smacking.

A report of a large series of cases seen in the Netherlands suggests that misophonia is well on its way to becoming a new psychiatric disorder (see below) (Jager et al., 2020).

Some commentators have expressed concern at the creeping medicalisation of quirks of human behaviour (BMJ, 2020).

What is Misophonia?

  • It is also known as Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome.
  • Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance.
  • Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.”
  • Their reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee.

Research Paper Title

Misophonia: Phenomenology, comorbidity and demographics in a large sample.

Objective

Analyse a large sample with detailed clinical data of misophonia subjects in order to determine the psychiatric, somatic and psychological nature of the condition.

Methods

This observational study of 779 subjects with suspected misophonia was conducted from January 2013 to May 2017 at the outpatient-clinic of the Amsterdam University Medical Centres, location AMC, the Netherlands. The researchers examined DSM-IV diagnoses, results of somatic examination (general screening and hearing tests), and 17 psychological questionnaires (e.g. SCL-90-R, WHOQoL).

Results

The diagnosis of misophonia was confirmed in 575 of 779 referred subjects (74%). In the sample of misophonia subjects (mean age, 34.17 [SD = 12.22] years; 399 women [69%]), 148 (26%) subjects had comorbid traits of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, 58 (10%) mood disorders, 31 (5%) attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, and 14 (3%) autism spectrum conditions. 2% reported tinnitus and 1% hyperacusis. In a random subgroup of 109 subjects the researchers performed audiometry, and found unilateral hearing loss in 3 of them (3%). Clinical neurological examination and additional blood test showed no abnormalities. Psychological tests revealed perfectionism (97% CPQ>25) and neuroticism (stanine 7 NEO-PI-R). Quality of life was heavily impaired and associated with misophonia severity (rs (184) = -.34 p = < .001, p = < .001).

Limitations

This was a single site study, leading to possible selection–and confirmation bias, since AMC-criteria were used.

Conclusions

This study with 575 subjects is the largest misophonia sample ever described.

Based on these results the researchers propose a set of revised criteria useful to diagnose misophonia as a psychiatric disorder.

References

BMJ 2020;369:m1843.

Jager, I., de Koning, P., Bost, T., Denys, D. & Vulink, N. (2020) Misophonia: Phenomenology, comorbidity and demographics in a large sample. PloS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231390.

Misophonia: Quirk of Human Behaviour or Mental Health Condition?

Introduction

By analogy with misogyny and misanthropy, misophonia ought to mean hatred of noise.

In fact, it is a recent coinage used to label the phenomenon of strong aversive reactions to sounds originating in other people’s oral or nasal cavities, such as chewing, sniffing, slurping, and lip smacking.

A report of a large series of cases seen in the Netherlands suggests that misophonia is well on its way to becoming a new psychiatric disorder (see below) (Jager et al., 2020).

Some commentators have expressed concern at the creeping medicalisation of quirks of human behaviour (BMJ, 2020).

What is Misophonia?

  • It is also known as Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome.
  • Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance.
  • Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.”
  • Their reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee.

Research Paper Title

Misophonia: Phenomenology, comorbidity and demographics in a large sample.

Objective

Analyse a large sample with detailed clinical data of misophonia subjects in order to determine the psychiatric, somatic and psychological nature of the condition.

Methods

This observational study of 779 subjects with suspected misophonia was conducted from January 2013 to May 2017 at the outpatient-clinic of the Amsterdam University Medical Centres, location AMC, the Netherlands. The researchers examined DSM-IV diagnoses, results of somatic examination (general screening and hearing tests), and 17 psychological questionnaires (e.g. SCL-90-R, WHOQoL).

Results

The diagnosis of misophonia was confirmed in 575 of 779 referred subjects (74%). In the sample of misophonia subjects (mean age, 34.17 [SD = 12.22] years; 399 women [69%]), 148 (26%) subjects had comorbid traits of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, 58 (10%) mood disorders, 31 (5%) attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, and 14 (3%) autism spectrum conditions. 2% reported tinnitus and 1% hyperacusis. In a random subgroup of 109 subjects the researchers performed audiometry, and found unilateral hearing loss in 3 of them (3%). Clinical neurological examination and additional blood test showed no abnormalities. Psychological tests revealed perfectionism (97% CPQ>25) and neuroticism (stanine 7 NEO-PI-R). Quality of life was heavily impaired and associated with misophonia severity (rs (184) = -.34 p = < .001, p = < .001).

Limitations

This was a single site study, leading to possible selection–and confirmation bias, since AMC-criteria were used.

Conclusions

This study with 575 subjects is the largest misophonia sample ever described.

Based on these results the researchers propose a set of revised criteria useful to diagnose misophonia as a psychiatric disorder.

References

BMJ 2020;369:m1843.

Jager, I., de Koning, P., Bost, T., Denys, D. & Vulink, N. (2020) Misophonia: Phenomenology, comorbidity and demographics in a large sample. PloS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231390.

Identifying Qualitatively Distinct PTSD Symptom Typologies

Research Paper Title

Identifying PTSD Symptom Typologies: A Latent Class Analysis.

Background

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterised by re-experiencing, avoidance, negative alterations in cognition and mood, and arousal symptoms per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5).

While numerous symptom combinations are possible to meet diagnostic criteria, simplification of this heterogeneity of symptom presentations may have clinical utility.

Methods

In a nationally representative sample of American adults with lifetime DSM-5 PTSD diagnoses from the third wave of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (n = 2,365), the researchers used Latent Class Analysis (LCA) to identify qualitatively distinct PTSD symptom typologies.

Subsequently, they used linear and logistic regressions to identify demographic, trauma-related, and psychiatric characteristics associated with membership in each class.

Results

In contrast to prior LCAs with DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria, fit indices for the present analyses of DSM-5 PTSD revealed a four-class solution to the data:

  1. Dysphoric (23.8%);
  2. Threat-Reactivity (26.1%);
  3. High Symptom (33.7%); and
  4. Low Symptom (16.3%).

Exploratory analyses revealed distinctions between classes in socioeconomic impairment, trauma exposure, comorbid diagnoses, and demographic characteristics.

Conclusions

Although the study is limited by its cross-sectional design (preventing analysis of temporal associations or causal pathways between covariates and latent classes), findings may support efforts to develop personalised medicine approaches to PTSD diagnosis and treatment.

Reference

Campbell, S.B., Trachik, B., Goldberg, S. & Simpson, T.L. (2020) Identifying PTSD Symptom Typologies: A Latent Class Analysis. Psychiatry Research. 285:112779. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112779. Epub 2020 Jan 23.

The Effects of Childhood Trauma on Increased Cortisol Levels in Patients with Glucocorticoid Resistance

Research Paper Title

Childhood Trauma, HPA Axis Activity and Antidepressant Response in Patients with Depression.

Background

Childhood trauma is among the most potent contributing risk factors for depression and is associated with poor treatment response.

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis abnormalities have been linked to both childhood trauma and depression, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood.

The present study aimed to investigate the link between childhood trauma, HPA axis activity and antidepressant response in patients with depression.

Methods

As part of the Wellcome Trust NIMA consortium, 163 depressed patients and 55 healthy volunteers were included in this study.

Adult patients meeting Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Version-5 criteria for major depression were categorised into subgroups of treatment responder (n=42), treatment non-responder (n=80) and untreated depressed (n=41) based on current depressive symptom severity measured by the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and exposure to antidepressant medications established by Antidepressant Treatment Response Questionnaire. Childhood Trauma Questionnaire was obtained.

Baseline serum C-reactive protein was measured using turbidimetric detection. Salivary cortisol was analysed at multiple time points during the day using the ELISA technique. Glucocorticoid resistance was defined as the coexistence of hypercortisolemia and inflammation.

Results

The results show that treatment non-responder patients had higher exposure to childhood trauma than responders.

No specific HPA axis abnormalities were found in treatment non-responder depressed patients.

Untreated depressed showed increased diurnal cortisol levels compared with patients on antidepressant medication, and higher prevalence of glucocorticoid resistance than medicated patients and controls.

The severity of childhood trauma was associated with increased diurnal cortisol levels only in individuals with glucocorticoid resistance.

Conclusions

The researchers argue their findings suggest that the severity of childhood trauma experience contributes to a lack of response to antidepressant treatment.

The effects of childhood trauma on increased cortisol levels are specifically evident in patients with glucocorticoid resistance and suggest glucocorticoid resistance as a target for the development of personalised treatment for a subgroup of depressed patients with a history of childhood trauma rather than for all patients with resistance to antidepressant treatment.

Reference

Nikkheslat, N., McLaughlin, A.P., Hastings, C., Zajkowska, Z., Nettis, M.A., Mariani, N., Enache, D., Lombardo, G., Pointon, L., Cowen, P.J., Cavanagh, J., Harrison, N.A., Bullmore, E.T., Pariante, C.M., Mondelli, V. & NIMA Consortium. (2019) Childhood Trauma, HPA Axis Activity and Antidepressant Response in Patients with Depression. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. pii: S0889-1591(19)30702-0. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.11.024. [Epub ahead of print].