Causes of Hallucinations

by Garreth Myers

Hallucinations are defined as apprehensions of an event or an object without the presence of an external stimulus. In simpler terms, a hallucination is something that a person perceives to see, smell, feel or taste without it being present.

Hallucinations can occur by means of any of the five senses, although, the most common kinds of hallucinations are auditory and visual. Hallucinations can be caused by extreme physical and mental stress, sleep deprivation, extreme recreational drug abuse (LSD, marijuana), psychosis, or medical conditions.

Symptoms: The symptoms of hallucinations include:

  • Bodily sensations such as crawling on the skin and motion of internal organs.
  • Apprehension of sounds such as footsteps, door or window banging or music.
  • Perception of voices (most prevalent). The voices range from complimentary, neutral, critical, or self-destructive messages.
  • Visual perception of non existent lights, patterns, or objects.
  • Detection of unpleasant or likable scents.
  • Hearing or seeing a departed loved one (normal hallucination, a part of grieving period).
Hallucinations may combine with other psychical symptoms. These are as follows:

  • Delusions
  • Anxiety
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Lack of judgement
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Mood swings
  • Behavioral changes
  • Elevated arousal
  • Depression or loneliness
  • Disturbed memory, thinking processes, and speech
  • Difficulty in comprehension, writing or reading
Some symptoms of hallucinations can be very serious as they are life threatening and destructive. Such cases would require immediate medical attention. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Suicidal tendencies, threat to others
  • Passing out
  • Blue fingernails or lips
  • High fever (101F or more)
  • Slow breathing or shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Fast or slow heart beats and abnormal heart rate
  • Severe pain and vomiting
  • Palpitations, chest pain or pressure
  • Trauma (burns, deformity, injuries)

Causes: There are several causes of hallucinations ranging from psychiatric causes to medical disorders. Some of the causes of hallucinations are listed as follows:


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychotic depression (severe depression leading to loss of contact with reality)
  • Schizoid personality depression (solitary confinement or lifestyle)
  • Schizotypal personality disorder (social isolation, trouble with social relationships)

  • Dementia
  • Delirium
  • Brain tumors
  • Seizure
  • Sleep troubles
  • Medicinal side effects
  • Drug abuse
  • Hearing or vision loss
  • Fever
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Migraine
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Effects: Hallucinations effects can be severe and compelling. Hallucination can cause an individual to become disconnected and aloof. A hallucinating person, if left alone, can suffer from paranoia or extreme fear psychosis. Chronic hallucinations like schizophrenia or other psychic ailments must be treated by medication and therapy.

Treatment: It is important to locate the underlying cause of hallucinations for an effective and long lasting treatment. The hallucinations caused by mental disorders should be treated with psychiatric consultation. The course of treatment will be based on the analysis and examination of the behavioral and psychological pattern of the patient. Some medications such as atypical and antipsychotic medication may be advised to cure the illness.

A significant part of hallucination treatment includes abstinence from triggers like recreational drugs and stress. Healthy lifestyle and proper sleep can prevent recurrent hallucinations. However, it is essential to take medical advice on all cases of hallucinations in order to chart a correct and absolute treatment method.


  • Meditation or concentration exercises may prove helpful in some cases of psychiatric hallucinations. These techniques can help to relieve stress and improve the quality of sleep.
  • Transcranial direct-current stimulation (TDCS) may prove beneficial in the treatment of auditory hallucinations in patients suffering from schizophrenia.
  • Alternatively, homeopathic medication may prove beneficial in some cases of hallucinations.
Hallucinations are a serious disorder and can completely disturb an individual’s daily routine. Any symptom related to hallucination should not be left unchecked as the disorder can be dangerous for the patient as well as others. Any treatment or remedies for hallucinations should be undertaken in consultation with qualified medical specialist.



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