Hallucination is the false perception of non-existent events and objects. It involves the sensory experience that is not triggered by any of the sensory organs, which means hallucination could be of smell, touch, sound, sight or taste. The word hallucination is a Latin derivative which means to wander mentally. Simply put, it is to see, touch, smell, taste or hear things that are not real.
Hallucinations frequently occur in people with certain mental disorders, such as bipolar and schizophrenia. However, it can still happen even without a mental illness, so when it is noticed, it should be taken seriously.
Types of Hallucination
There are different types of hallucinations, which are classified and named according to their symptoms.
- Visual hallucinations: seeing colours, items, shapes, or people that aren’t real.
- Auditory hallucination: hearing sounds or voices that no one else can hear.
- Olfactory hallucinations: smelling something that has no physical source.
- Tactile hallucinations: feeling sensations as if you are being touched when you are not or as if bugs are crawling under your skin when there are none.
- Gustatory hallucinations: having a taste in your mouth that has no real source.
- Proprioceptive hallucinations: the feeling that your limbs are separate from your body or that your body is moving when it is not.
- Presence hallucinations: a sensation that someone is in the room with you or nearby when there isn’t anyone around you.
Some hallucinations only occur at night or in the morning. These types of hallucinations include:
- Hypnagogic hallucinations: This can occur when you are falling asleep.
- Hypnopompic hallucinations: This can occur when you are waking up.
Hallucinations may be temporary or associated with certain mental and psychological conditions, so first of all, here are the common temporary causes of hallucinations.
- Severe pain.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Falling asleep and waking up.
- Severe dehydration.
- Alcohol or drug intoxication.
- High fever.
- Infections like UTI.
- Recovery from anesthesia.
These hallucinations are usually not a cause for concern because they go away after a short while and don’t occur again once the cause is treated. However, some mental and psychological conditions can cause hallucinations, such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Schizotypal personality disorder.
- Brief psychotic disorder.
- Schizoaffective disorder.
- Delusional disorder.
- Schizophreniform disorder.
- Bipolar disorder.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Psychotic depression.
- Epilepsy, which involves the temporal lobe.
- Lewy body dementia.
- Dissociative identity disorder (DID).
The treatment of hallucinations is usually a multidisciplinary approach, but it still depends on the type of hallucination you are experiencing, the underlying cause and your overall health condition.
The treatment approach includes:
- Psychotherapy which is a form of enlightenment to help patients become aware of their symptoms and condition.
- Medications such as antipsychotic drugs are also used to treat hallucinations or reduce their frequency.
- A non-invasive procedure such as Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can also help to reduce the severity and frequency of hallucinations in some patients.
- Self-help is also needed for some patients to prevent or stop hallucinations. This may include exercise, reading, talking with people, listening to music, singing songs, and ignoring voices.