Many Causes of Hallucinations
When hearing the word hallucination, most people either think of drugs, the hallucinations associated with schizophrenia, or other mental illness. However, drugs and mental disorders are not the only reasons people may experience hallucinations.
What Are Hallucinations?
Hallucinations are false perceptions, which can occur for any of the senses, of things for which there are no external stimuli present to invoke such a perception. They may be very detailed and real to the person who experiences them. The most common type of hallucination is when people hear voices that are not there. However, other types of hallucination can involve the other senses. For example, someone may see shapes, color, patterns, or people who are not really present. Others may hear music, footsteps, whispering, or doors opening and closing. Some people smell or taste things that are not there. Hallucinations can include the feeling of something crawling under the skin or the feeling that organs are moving inside the body. Any one or more of the senses can be affected by hallucinations.
What Causes Hallucinations?
Hallucinations can indeed be caused by drugs and mental illness, but these are not the only causes. Fever, severe illness, certain diseases or conditions, and being deaf or blind can all cause hallucinations in many circumstances. The most common illness and diseases to cause hallucinations include brain cancer, liver or kidney failure, AIDS, epilepsy, and dementia. Although abused substances may also cause hallucinations, some prescription medications may cause hallucinations, especially if too much is taken.
Delusions or Hallucinations?
Whereas hallucinations involve false perceptions without the detection of any external stimuli, a delusion is an unshakable belief or conviction that something is true, even when there is undeniable evidence to the contrary. Someone with delusions often has trouble seeing the difference between what is real and what they imagine. Their perception is based on a faulty line of reasoning generally based on some external stimulus.
What Are Sleep Hallucinations?
These types of hallucinations occur between the period of sleep and wakefulness, and can occur either right before falling asleep or right before waking up. Although sleep hallucinations may be caused by medications or health conditions, there is often no underlying cause. If sleep hallucinations cause fear, happen frequently, or become a cause for concern, it is best to see a physician who can determine if there are underlying problems that need to be treated.