Anyone Overcome Phonophobia?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Nemoriri, Apr 17, 2021.

    1. Nemoriri

      Nemoriri Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced

      My tinnitus started 15 months ago (from accidental extremely loud headphone sound for 3 seconds), and apart from the initial stages of complete panic and anxiety that most of us go through, during my first 7 months with tinnitus I continued to live a really normal life, still having my tinnitus, but I lived my life just as usual without any worry about how "normal" sounds in the environment would affect me. And they never did.

      However, at around month 8 I unfortunately experienced another acoustic trauma (close proximity to a war siren for 1 minute) that gave me hyperacusis, which I hadn't had before. And the following months other sounds accidents also happened. All of these incidents became more and more like traumas and my brain really started changing and I suppose just subconsciously wanting to protect me against these things that I told it were dangerous. And I feel like things have just escalated especially since the start of this year. I've had a few -temporary- spikes of my tinnitus in reaction to loud sounds, but the spikes have really been affecting my hyperacusis more than the tinnitus.

      However, I've just become more and more phonophobic, it's really been escalating the past months to the point where I now feel that it's massively affecting my life. I feel so dysfunctional and not normal. I worry about meeting up with friends in case they want to take the bus or go into the noisy town, or go to a pub. I feel so restricted... I just want to have a more normal life again and be out and be able to feel relaxed and not always looking over my shoulder, so to speak.

      I am extremely easily startled by sudden loud noises.
      My pulse will hit the roof and I'll get shaky from things other people barely react to.

      So many things make me anxious. Walking next to the road, being in the kitchen with other people, being on the bus. The PA system at a train station gave me like a panic attack. And today when I was on the bus the driver got on the speaker and it made my pulse hit the roof and I got shaky because the sudden noise was so startling. I really try to not use earplugs too much since I'm well aware that it can increase sensitivity, but I keep them hanging in my ears just in case. I'm just always on my guard and on my toes...

      I know this isn't rational behaviour. These situations were never an issue to me before and I'm quite sure most of these things should be fine for me. But I've gotten so extremely phonophobic.

      I'm currently seeing a therapist specialised in PTSD and trauma, and it's a great psychologist so I feel like that's a really good step forward.

      But I'm curious to hear: Is there anyone here who's also had experience with phonophobia and who's gotten better? It would really instill some hope to hear about and I'd be very grateful.
      • Hug Hug x 4
    2. Simon85

      Simon85 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Nov 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably noise exposure, but unknown.
      Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time. I’ve read many stories where people afraid of sound have started to relax about it. Of course, you’ll always want to have your condition in mind so that you remember to carry ear protection. There are also plenty of stories where people get too comfortable and relapse.

      I think the most important component is regular low risk exposure to get yourself comfortable. You could make a schedule and try to stick with it: nature walks, getting a coffee at the local cafe... Are there any low risk activities you’re currently avoiding? Try to focus on working towards doing these - start with the smallest one and take baby steps. If you’re afraid of visiting a specific venue, for example, start by just walking past on a few visits until that’s boring and comfortable - tiny increments can be added from there (rinse and repeat).

      Hope this helps and good luck. You’re certainly not alone on this front.

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