If you or a loved one is asking, “Why am I hallucinating?” you need answers as soon as possible. The onset of hallucinations can be very frightening and potentially dangerous. Unless you know the cause, you do not know whether it is a mental health disorder, a physical condition, or the effects of drug use. This blog is a good place to start if you want to understand hallucinations and how they are diagnosed. Here, you can also find out about some of their causes and discover the types of treatment available.
Are you asking yourself, why am I hallucinating? Contact Georgetown Behavioral Hospital today for expert diagnosis and treatment.
What Are Hallucinations?
You might have heard that hallucinating means seeing things that are not there. That is true, but it is only part of the story. In fact, a hallucination could involve any sensory perception, including not only seeing things but also hearing, smelling, tasting, or having a touch sensation that feels very real but is not coming from anything in your environment. If you wonder, “Why am I hallucinating?” it might be that you are having sense perceptions that do not seem to go with what you know about the world.
Dangers of Hallucinations
The dangers of hallucinations might not be obvious if you have never seen the damage they can cause. The hallucinations themselves cannot hurt anyone, though they can be terrifying to the person experiencing them.
It is not the unreal image, sound, smell, taste, or touch sensation that brings the danger directly. Instead, the dangers of hallucinations lie in what happens you do because you experience them as being real. Because of a hallucination, you might do something you would not do otherwise. You could either do something dangerous, like running in front of an oncoming car. Or, you could be so focused on the false perception that you are not able to protect yourself from real dangers.
One type, called command hallucinations, consists of falsely perceiving that something or someone is telling you what to do. If this perceived message is that you should harm yourself or someone else, it could be a severely dangerous situation. Because it can be a possibility with hallucinations, you or your loved one needs immediate help when they happen.
Medical and psychiatric professionals can help you when you say, “Why am I hallucinating?” However, it requires careful diagnosis before they can recommend the right treatment.
Psychiatrists and other doctors view hallucinations as a symptom that could indicate a serious physical condition or mental disorder. Therefore, when they evaluate someone who has been hallucinating, they do a comprehensive review of your history, current symptoms, and physical condition.
In some cases, an interdisciplinary team might work together to ensure they consider the most important possibilities. They may observe you and may also order lab tests. After they gather all the information they need, they review and analyze it to determine what is behind your question of “Why am I hallucinating?”
Mental Health and Hallucinations
So, what causes hallucinations? There are many possibilities. A common cause of hallucinations is a mental disorder with psychotic features, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. If you have severe anxiety or depression, that can cause you to have brief hallucinations about the things you are worried or upset about. PTSD can sometimes cause intense hallucinations, often auditory in nature.
Most people know that drugs and alcohol have the potential to cause hallucinations, and during detox, you may also experience them as well. That is one reason it is crucial to seek help if you are having mental health issues or quitting drugs or alcohol. At Georgetown Behavioral Hospital, we have a dual diagnosis program for people with both mental health and addiction challenges.
Another issue that sometimes results in hallucinations is if you stop taking medications abruptly. This is especially common with psych meds. The reason is that medications have a chemical effect on your body – whether you are taking them or discontinuing them quickly without your doctor’s supervision.
Other Causes of Hallucinations
Many things that disrupt the physical or chemical makeup of your brain or body could cause you to hallucinate. The following are just some of the possibilities.
- Side effects of medicines for physical or mental conditions
- Aftereffects of anesthesia when you have had surgery
- An eye condition called Charles Bonnet syndrome
- Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease
- Sleep deprivation
- Severe dehydration
- High fevers
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Infections like septic shock or meningitis
With so many different potential life-altering or life-threatening possibilities, seeking help immediately could be the best thing you ever did for yourself or a loved one.
Aside from the root causes of hallucinations, there may be hallucination triggers that tip the scales from just being vulnerable to experiencing a break from reality. Sometimes, hallucinations happen after intense emotional experiences or a chain of anxious thoughts. However, these things do not always trigger hallucinations, and people sometimes hallucinate without ever noticing a trigger. The most important thing is to find the root cause and then work with your mental health professionals to get the right treatment for you.
Inpatient hallucination treatment can make you feel safer and more secure than you have since the hallucinations began. The hospital staff ensures that you stay safe from the dangers of hallucinations. Meanwhile, your doctor prescribes you medications that help your mind return to normal. This can happen very quickly, or it could take longer. The important thing is that you have a psychiatrist available to make adjustments as needed.
Once the hallucinations are under better control, you can begin psychotherapy so that you can understand what is happening to you and why. Your therapist can teach you strategies for coping with the cause of your hallucinations. They can also help you work through your practical problems, like work or self-care. Then, when you leave the hospital, you will be able to function and thrive in your everyday life.
When Do You Need Inpatient Care for Hallucinations?
Although hallucinating can be scary, it is more worrisome for some people than others. Sometimes, people have hallucinations that they know are not real. However, if you or your loved one can no longer tell the difference between what is real and what is not, then they need help right away.
After diagnosis, your doctor or team will either present you with a treatment plan for inpatient mental health care or let you know what other type of treatment you need, if any. In the event that your hallucinations are due to a mental health disorder, then they may recommend that you stay in the hospital for a time. Inpatient treatment is especially helpful for people who have just been diagnosed and need to learn how to manage their illness. However, for anyone with a mental health problem and hallucinations, inpatient may be helpful anytime you need to overcome the momentary problem and work towards long-term improvement and recovery.
Seeking Diagnosis and Hallucination Treatment
When the questions of “Why am I hallucinating?” and “Could I have schizophrenia?” become a serious concern, the only way to know is to seek help. At Georgetown Behavioral Hospital, you will find a caring team of professionals who are ready to help you find answers.
Our Ohio mental health facility offers diagnosis and treatment for mental health and addiction, including hallucination treatment. Besides the psychiatrists, we also have other medical staff at our location or available on call. That means that whether the cause is a mental health condition, medical disease, or injury, we can help you find out what it is and what you need to do next.
When you receive the diagnosis, our doctors create and recommend a treatment plan to help you deal with, manage, and prevent similar problems in the future.
Do you or your loved one worry about the dangers of hallucinations? Come to Georgetown Behavioral Hospital for the inpatient services you need.