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Hearing The Distant Sound of People Talking as People Talking About You?

Community Member


I have suffered from anxiety and depression for years. I am currently not on medication and waiting to see a therapist. I sometimes get paranoid that people say things about me, but I guess that's not uncommon with anxiety. Within the last year it is as if my mind is translating the sound of people talking in the distance into things that they may be saying about me. This usually happens when the talking is in another room and muffled, so I can not actually hear what they are saying if I tried to listen. It just seems to be triggered by excess noise and the sound of chatter. I moved into a small and noisy apartment three years ago.

I am still not used to living in such a noisy residence as I lived 24 years of my life in stand alone homes with more distance between houses and thicker walls. I can always hear the muffled sound of people talking outside and noise everyone makes. I am able to analyse these thoughts or sounds when this happens and question them. It's not that I am 100% certain that people are talking about me. It's almost as if I just hear them say it. They are always far enough away that if I actually wanted to hear what they are saying, I would not be able to. It's never a clear voice that's as loud as someone talking to you in the same room. It sounds like a muffled whisper of something negative being said. I am unsure if this is not uncommon for people with anxiety and depression or if it's possibly a different mental illness, e.g., schizophrenia or something.

There is a neighbour that gives me anxiety because they are constantly sitting outside talking and our front doors are right next to each other. When I am home and I constantly "hear" them saying things about me. I do not think he particularly likes me, but that's life. I am sure that even though he may say something, he would not be doing it as much as I "hear" it. This also happens at work in the presence of coworkers and customers. I don't think it's Schizophrenia because I am not randomly hearing voices when it's completely quiet and no one is there. It's only triggered when there's multiple people nearby and I can hear the sound of them talking in the distance. I think some of it has to do with low self esteem associated with anxiety as the things I "hear" are things that I am embarrassed or not confident about. Has anyone else experienced anything similar to this at all?

3 Replies 3

Hi visitor0495
Welcome to the forums and thank you for being a member of this open, kind and helpful community.
We know that it can be incredibly difficult to share our story, so we want to say thank you for showing such courage in posting and sharing that experience - you never know who will read this post and feel less alone on their own journey as also for you too.
We are here 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via our webchat.  Our team who answer the phones are ready to have a supportive and non-judgmental chat whenever you need it. 
Thank you again for joining us here and for starting this conversation. Please feel free to come back and update us on how you are feeling, if you are comfortable.
Kind regards,
Sophie M

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi visitor0495,

Welcome to the forums and thank you for sharing this with us. It can't have been easy to do so I hope you can find some great support from the forums.

This does remind me when I was in school even though I've been dealing with anxiety all of my life. Even though I couldn't always make out what they were saying, I was really convinced people were talking about me. I had really low self-esteem, so the things I believed they were saying were the things I was already self-conscious of.

Like you, I couldn't always realistically hear what was being said, but I think it was my brain kind of filling in the gaps of what it assumed they were saying.

Does this sound like your own experience?


Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like. It’s like my brain is constantly filling in the gaps of what I think people are saying about me. It’s definitely always about insecurities that I already have. Thank you for your comment. I could not have put it into better words myself. It helps knowing that other people have had similar experiences.