Hallucinations: What's it, causes, symptoms, diagnostics, treatment, prevention

Hallucinations; Sensory hallucinations

Hallucinations are a type of sensory perception, in which a person experiences, what is not really. This may include seeing, hearing, smell, a taste or sensation of something unreal. Hallucinations can be a symptom of a wide range of diseases., including mental disorders and neurological diseases. In this article, we will look at the reasons, symptoms and treatment options for hallucinations.

Causes of hallucinations

There are many possible causes of hallucinations., and they can be divided into two main categories: medical and non-medical.

Medical causes of hallucinations may include:

  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, like marijuana , LSD , cocaine (including crack), phencyclidine, amfetaminы, heroin, ketamine and alcohol
  • Delirium or dementia (most common visual hallucinations)
  • Epilepsy, the affected part of the brain, called the temporal lobe (most common odor hallucinations)
  • Fever, especially in children and the elderly
  • Sensory problems, such as blindness or deafness
  • Severe illnesses, including hepatic failure, kidney failure , HIV / AIDS
  • Mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression
  • Brain Tumors
  • Migraine
  • Sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea
  • Withdrawal of certain medications, such as benzodiazepines or antipsychotics

Non-medical causes of hallucinations may include:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Strong emotional experiences

Sometimes hallucinations are normal. For Example, hear a voice or briefly see a loved one, who recently died, may be part of the grieving process.

Symptoms of hallucinations

Hallucinations can take many forms., depending on the person and the underlying cause. Some common symptoms of hallucinations may include:

  • Voices or other sounds, which are not really
  • Man sees objects, people or animals, which are not
  • Unreal feeling on the skin, such as crawling or tingling
  • Lack of smell
  • A person smells non-existent smells

In some cases, hallucinations may be accompanied by other symptoms., like crazy, disorganized thinking or changes in mood or behavior.

When to contact a healthcare professional

If you or a loved one is experiencing hallucinations, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Depending on the underlying cause, hallucinations can be a sign of a serious illness., requiring immediate treatment. You should see a doctor, if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the following:

  • Severe or persistent hallucinations
  • Hallucinations, interfering with daily activities, e.g. work or communication
  • Other symptoms, such as delusions or disorganized thinking
  • Symptoms for an emergency call, such as chest pain or difficulty breathing

Questions, that your doctor may ask

If you see a doctor about hallucinations, he may ask you a series of questions, to help determine the root cause. Some questions, which the doctor may ask, may include:

  • When did you first have hallucinations??
  • What do they look like, hearing or feeling your hallucinations?
  • Do you often experience hallucinations or occasionally?
  • Hallucinations come and go or are they permanent?
  • Do you have any other symptoms, like delusion, disorganized thinking or changes in mood or behavior?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any medical conditions or are you taking any medications?
  • You use drugs or alcohol?
  • Have you had mental health problems in your family??
  • Have you experienced any recent traumatic or stressful events?

Diagnosis of hallucinations

Diagnosis of hallucinations will depend on the underlying cause. To determine the cause of your hallucinations, the doctor may perform a physical examination and order some diagnostic tests, such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Analysis of urine
  • Imaging studies, such as MRI or CT.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • At testing

Your doctor may also refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation and treatment..

Treatment options for hallucinations

Treatment for hallucinations will depend on the underlying cause. If your hallucinations are caused by any disease, such as a brain tumor or epilepsy, the doctor will develop a treatment plan to eliminate the underlying disease.

If your hallucinations are caused by a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, treatment may include a combination of medications and therapy. Often prescribed antipsychotics, to help reduce hallucinations and other symptoms of these disorders. Therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, may also be useful for treating the underlying disease.

If your hallucinations are caused by drug or alcohol abuse, treatment may include detoxification and rehabilitation. This may include medication, counseling and support groups.

Home treatment for hallucinations

If you experience mild hallucinations and have been diagnosed with a medical condition, causing them, there are some things, which you can make at home, to manage symptoms. These may include:

  • Avoidance of drug and alcohol consumption
  • Sleep compliance
  • Reducing Stress with Relaxation Techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Seeking support from friends and family


There are several steps, you can take, to prevent hallucinations, especially those, that are caused by drug or alcohol abuse. These may include:

  • Avoidance of drug and alcohol consumption
  • Passing regular medical check-ups
  • Treatment of any underlying illness or mental illness.
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a healthy diet.
  • Seeking support from friends and family


Hallucinations can be a symptom of a wide range of diseases., and it is important to seek medical attention, if you or a loved one is experiencing them. Depending on the underlying cause, treatment may include medication, therapy or other interventions. Taking steps to manage your symptoms and prevent future episodes, you can improve your overall health and well-being.

Used sources and literature

American Psychiatric Association website. Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. In: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013:87-122.

Freudenreich O, Brown HE, Dead DJ. Psychosis and schizophrenia. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 28.

Kelly MP, Shapshak D. Thought disorders. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 100.

Back to top button