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Psychiatric Hallucinations

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What are psychiatric hallucinations?

Hallucinations are things a person sees, hears, feels, tastes, or smells that seem real but are not. Psychiatric hallucinations are caused by a mental condition such as schizophrenia. As hallucinations worsen, the person may have mood swings or depression. He or she may develop rapid speech or trouble speaking clearly. The person's thoughts may ramble, or he or she may be restless. The person may not know where he or she is or people who should be familiar to him or her.

What are the types of hallucinations?

  • Auditory means hearing things, such as music, buzzing, or ringing. The person may hear voices even though no one else is in the room. The voices may say negative things about the person or tell him or her to harm himself or herself, or others. He or she may try to respond to the voices or feel he or she has to follow their commands.
  • Visual means seeing things, such as a person or object that is not real. The person may also see an object that is real but that looks different to him or her than it does to others.
  • Tactile means feeling things, such as an object that is not real. The person may feel like something is touching him or her or is crawling on or in his or her skin. He or she may also feel that his or her body is being cut or torn. He or she may feel like something is in a body part, such as his or her stomach, even though tests show nothing is there.
  • Olfactory means smelling something that is not real. The smell may make the person gag or choke if it is not pleasant. He or she may smell something good, such as food or flowers.
  • Gustatory means tasting things that are not real. The person may taste something even when his or her mouth is empty. Food may taste rotten or sour to him or her even though others eating the same food think it tastes fine.

How is the cause of psychiatric hallucinations diagnosed?

The person's healthcare provider will look for signs of psychosis (false beliefs). Psychosis means the person may not be able to know what is real. The person may need blood or urine tests, x-rays, or other tests to check for medical problems that can cause hallucinations.

How are psychiatric hallucinations treated?

  • Medicines may be given to stop the hallucinations, reduce anxiety, or relax the person's muscles.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is used to help the person manage hallucinations. He or she may be taught to ignore voices. CBT will not make the hallucinations stop, but it can help the person manage the hallucinations.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • The person says he or she wants to harm himself or herself, or someone else.
  • The person seems to hear or says he or she hears voices telling him or her to harm himself or herself, or someone else.
  • The person has a seizure.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • The person is confused, does not know where he or she is, or is not making sense when he or she speaks.
  • The person's hallucinations worsen or return after treatment.
  • The person vomits several times in a row.
  • The person's heartbeat or breathing is faster or slower than usual.
  • The person has trouble breathing or shortness of breath.

When should I contact the person's healthcare provider?

  • The person has new hallucinations.
  • You have questions or concerns about the person's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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