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hallucinating man covering earsWhat are Hallucinations?

A hallucination is a phenomenon of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting or sensing something that does not exist in reality but is perceived in the mind. It is not known how or why hallucinations occur but it is believed that these experiences are caused by abnormal serotonin and dopamine levels or irregularities in signal transmitters in the brain. Hallucinations commonly occur as sounds that are not real and do not have a source.

Hallucinations may be caused by a variety of conditions such as:

  • abuse of alcohol, or use of marijuana or “street drugs”
  • epilepsy (a seizure causing condition)
  • dementia (a disease that causes loss of brain function) or states of delirium
  • fever or high body temperatures
  • narcolepsy (a sleeping disorder that induces frequent sleepiness)
  • depression, manic bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other mental illnesses
  • sensory disorders or disabilities including a loss of one or more senses (deafness, blindness, etc.)
  • liver or kidney failure
  • acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or other immune system disorders
  • cancer of the brain
  • a stroke (when there is not blood flow to certain parts of the brain)

How are Hallucinations Treated?

Persons who experience hallucinations should not be left alone. Hallucinations can cause paranoia, fear or belief that these sensations are real. If any of these symptoms occur contact your healthcare provider right away.

Most treatments for hallucinations include therapy to help the patient distinguish between reality and the hallucinations. Many cases may be subdued by treating the condition that is causing the hallucinating. Doctors may prescribe antipsychotic or atypical antipsychotic medicine as a remedy.