Anxiety when hearing yelling (A brief guide)

In this guide, we will discuss “anxiety when hearing yelling”, the difference between having anxiety when someone yells at us or at someone else and noise anxiety, and some tips on how to cope with your anxiety.

Anxiety when hearing yelling

More than discussing Anxiety when hearing yelling, we will discuss how someone can have anxiety from loud noises, which is worth mentioning and comparing.

If you have been exposed to loud noise or some type of noise (like someone is yelling at you or someone else) that has been associated with an anxious response (plus emotional trauma), then it can be experienced once more in the future as anxiety when hearing yelling or a loud noise.

“Being frequently yelled at changes the brain and the body in a multitude of ways including increasing the activity of the amygdala (the emotional brain), increasing stress hormones in the blood stream, increasing muscular tension, and more. Being frequently yelled at changes how we think even after we become adults and leave home. That’s because the brain wires according to our experiences — we literally hear our parents’ voices yelling at us in our heads even when they are not there (Psychcentral).”

In contrast, anxiety due to loud and unexpected sounds is called phonophobia and can cause panic attack.

Here are some symptoms according to

  • Excessive sweating
  • Desire to flee
  • Panic attack
  • Fainting
  • Severe mood swings
  • Irregular heartbeat

Even though it is considered a normal reaction to jump or get startled by a loud and sudden noise, it is considered a much more complex situation when we talk about noise anxiety.

As Stephanie Kirby from Better Help suggests, “this type of anxiety is defined as an intense awareness of noise and is generally caused by some sort of trauma or a combination of stress and anxiety associated with a particular sound.”

Therefore, some people can get irritable or angry, turn aggressive or violent in an attempt to make the noise stop or avoid it entirely.

In addition, when someone experiences an anxiety attack, it does not really matter what triggered it, their cognitive functioning could be impaired temporarily since all the energy, blood and oxygen are concentrated in the areas where it is possible to act fast fighting or fleeing from the source of anxiety. 
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Moreover, someone with noise anxiety has a condition that affects the way they perceive sounds meaning, they have a higher sensitivity to particular sounds that are not usually problematic for other people. 

Identifying the triggers for anxiety

Sounds that are connected to traumatic events or experiences can be considered triggers for noise anxiety.

In this case, it is especially true when you experience intense fear, being absolutely terrified and physical discomfort when you are having a conversation with someone, and they suddenly start yelling at you or if the same happens if you witness someone having an argument and yelling at each other. 

At this point, you feel like running, can’t take it and want it to stop. Then, you think, Why do I feel like this?, What can I do to stop it?

You have probably identified at this point that yelling makes you very anxious because when you were younger your parents used to argue in front of you and usually there was verbal and physical abuse not only between them but also sometimes towards yourself.

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Also, it could be that you have had a toxic relationship and yelling was part of your everyday interaction, you were living in fear every day. 

Anxiety: Raised Baseline

If we were to measure our anxiety we would probably use a scale from 1 to 10. Where 1 is little anxiety and 10 is the state of maximum alert.

We are all familiar with what it feels to feel anxious, we have experienced it from time to time, but we would probably give it a 7 or an 8 under certain event and after it, if we were supposed to measure it again we would probably say 1 or 2.  

However, people who have experienced traumatic events or severe anxiety always have a raised baseline where their anxiety will always remain between 6, 7 or 8 on the scale, which is pretty high.

This will become normal to them, while for someone else means a high amount of anxiety, their bodies have adapted and are always in a constant state of alert.

As Wendy Yoder from Calm Clinic explains “when something startles them or causes them to experience any type of burst in anxiety, suddenly they go from an 8 to a 9, and the body hasn’t adjusted for that, so it still experiences profound anxiety.

That’s where anxiety from loud noises often comes from – it jumps the body up a little more on the anxiety scale for those that already have a much higher baseline than others.”

Now, we can draw a line between noise anxiety and anxiety due to yelling.

For someone with noise anxiety, some possible triggers could include pretty much any type of noise such as dogs barking, emergency/police sirens, indoor and outdoor noises, traffic noises, clocks, televisions, voices, ringing, etc.

In this case, it is not as specific as having anxiety due to yelling.

Someone with this type of anxiety does not necessarily have triggers like the ones we just mentioned but are more situational and specific. 

Coping strategies for anxiety when yelling

  1. Remember a situation that involves yelling and concentrate on your physical reaction to it. Imagine and think about how, if you were able to go back, what would you try to do differently? Write it down and consider applying it next time it happens.
  2. Identify what are your triggers. If possible, make a list but if they are not clear enough as soon as you feel calmer after feeling anxiety when hearing yelling, write the experience down so you can analyze it better later on.
  3. Focus on your breathing while your anxiety hits the peak. By learning how to breathe you can reduce the time you feel the anxiety when yelling. Also, it helps to reduce physical symptoms and discomfort you may feel.
  4. Implement relaxation techniques. When we are anxious, our muscles are tense and by learning how to relax our muscles we can help reduce our anxiety.
  5. If your anxiety is too overwhelming and you feel you can’t really cope with it, then we recommend seeking professional help from a therapist. 

How do I cope if I have phonophobia?

Even though there is no cure for phonophobia, there is treatment such as exposure therapy.

In this type of therapy, people suffering from phonophobia are exposed to sudden and loud noises which are intended for them to get used to this occurrence.

On the other hand, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is also used to help people develop coping strategies by changing unhelpful cognitive patterns that lead to certain behaviors. 

In addition, some simple strategies involve using headphones or wearing earplugs when you are outside. 

Why is this blog about anxiety when hearing yelling important?

This blog about anxiety when hearing yelling has attempted to compare it to noise anxiety.

As we have discussed, anxiety when hearing yelling seems to be more specific while noise anxiety relates to any noise, in general terms.

Moreover, phonophobia could be more difficult to manage due to the broad range of triggers, meaning more probable to happen.  

In addition, we discussed how people with anxiety tend to have a raised baseline making them more sensitive and prone to developing an anxiety disorder.

However, there are effective coping strategies when dealing with phonophobia and some treatment options when dealing with anxiety when hearing yelling.

Please feel free to comment in the comments section!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about anxiety when hearing yelling

Does yelling cause anxiety?

Yelling can lead to anxiety.

When we are constantly exposed to yelling and verbal abuse, then the amygdala located in our brain activates and triggers the fear response when there is a perceived potential threat, preparing our body to react by fighting the threat or running away from it.

Is there a fear of yelling?

More than a fear of yelling, there is a fear of/or aversion to loud noises called phonophobia or ligyrophobia.

It can also be used to refer to a fear of voices or even your own voice.

It is considered a rare type of phobia that is often associated as the symptom of hyperacusis.

Can loud noises cause panic attacks?

Yes, loud and unexpected noises can be a potential cause of panic attacks, they are perceived with intense fear and endured with such emotional and physical discomfort.

Having a panic attack when hearing a loud noise can include physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, increased heart and breathing rates, chest pain, sweating, changes in temperature, dizziness, headaches, among others.

Can yelling at a child cause anxiety?

Yelling at a child can cause anxiety.

Our brain receives the alert and sends a signal throughout our body to protect us from harm due to a perceived potential threat or dangerous situation.

When a child is constantly exposed to yelling or grows up in a harsh environment, the anxiety can get worse, and they can become more irritable, aggressive and even depressed.

How do I stop yelling when angry?

The best way to stop yelling when angry is pausing for a minute, breathe deeply, be aware and conscious that we are yelling, read the context and the expression of the people involved in the situation, pause and attempt to calm down.  


Jacobs, H. (2018, Nov.) The Problem with Yelling. Retrieved from

Kirby, S. (2019, Dec.) Triggers for Noise Anxiety. Retrieved from, (2018, May.) When sudden sounds cause anxiety: signs you’re dealing with phonophobia.

Yoder, W. (2018. Oct.) Anxiety and Sensitivity to Noise. Retrieved from