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Why Do Sounds and Touch Bother Me?

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From a teen in the U.S.: This started in 7th grade, but its been getting really bad. i’ve always been irritated by certain sounds, mainly ones other people make. Like breathing loudly, clearing throat, tapping pens, any repetative motion. It’s now sending me into panic attacks, i have to leave the classroom several times and i cant look at anyone, i cant pay attention in class at all because my heart is pounding and i cant breath. I cry it out in the bathroom and miss a lot of class.

Its worse recently, but i hate anyone too close to me physically, I feel so anxious near people within arms length, when i accidentally bump into a door i flinch violently bc im scared its someone touching me.

I have no idea why i hate it so much, ive never been assaulted and these emotions came out of nowhere. the anxiety is worse around my family, i cant stand being near my parents and my sister, and i hate them uncontrollably when they touch me, even if its just a pat on the back. I’ve wanted to
kill them and curse them out, when I told my mother I hated certain sounds she didnt care,

I try so hard to ignore it but i just cant, i end up yelling and she says im being ridiculous and that I should stop complaining. I cant describe the absolute hate and anger and disgust and fear I feel. I immedietly start sweating when anyone gets too close and if someone intentionally touches me i yell and start shaking and I want to cry. These feelings are less horrible around certain friends, all of which are female and around my age. I’ve resorted to locking every room I enter, and making up excuses to skip school, I also try to make myself appear really mean and gross just so no one touches me. I have no friends at school except 2 girls I dont flinch away from. My mom thinks I hate her. Whats wrong with me? I feel like I’m being so disgusting and horrible but i cant help it, I just get so anxious and disgusted and angry all the time. What should I do?

Why Do Sounds and Touch Bother Me?

Answered by on -


What you are describing is probably hypersensitivity. Often it is associated with ADHD, but not always. People with hypersensitivity have extreme reactions to the usual annoyances of the world. For some people it is sounds (like people chewing or the buzz of fluorescent lights). Other people are extremely sensitive to smells (perfumes, deodorants, scented candles) or light (bright sun or a too bright computer screen) or even, like you, touch. Such people can’t stand it when someone else touches them or gets too close. Certain fabrics are irritating. A tag on a shirt can distract them all day.

There are good things that come with the bad. Often people with hypersensitivity to sound, for example, become sensitive musicians. People who are emotionally hypersensitive sometimes are especially talented in working with children.

Yes, it can be treated. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking care of the little things first. If tags bother you, cut them out. If noisy jewelry bothers you, don’t wear it. If bright light bothers you, wear sunglasses.

Often, learning self-calming techniques like mindfulness or yoga can calm down a person’s nervous system so it isn’t so reactive. For issues that truly intrude on your ability to be with others (like not wanting people near you), you could benefit from some cognitive-behavioral therapy. Look for a therapist in your area with those credentials.

Your problem is real. There are solutions. I suggest that you do further research on the internet and then have a calm discussion with your mom about what you learn. You can’t just talk yourself out of this. You need to learn some strategies to manage it so that you can have the relationships you need with others.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

Why Do Sounds and Touch Bother Me?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). Why Do Sounds and Touch Bother Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Apr 2019 (Originally: 18 Apr 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 15 Apr 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.