Auditory hallucinations involve hearing sounds that have no source or observable cause. It is common in several conditions.
While this symptom occurs fairly
Treatment entails addressing the underlying cause. For instance, if the cause of auditory hallucinations is schizophrenia, doctors usually treat it with second-generation antipsychotics.
Keep reading to learn more about the types, causes, and treatment of auditory hallucinations.
Another term for auditory hallucinations is paracusis. A person with this symptom hears words that no one has spoken or sounds that do not come from a stimulus. In other words, their mind creates sounds.
According to a
There are two types of auditory hallucinations — psychiatric and nonpsychiatric — reports the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research.
Psychiatric auditory hallucinations can involve:
Nonpsychiatric auditory hallucinations can include:
These can be unformed sounds, which sound distorted, or formed, which sound clear.
Auditory hallucinations have strong links to schizophrenia and related psychotic conditions, and
Other psychiatric conditions
Psychiatric conditions other than schizophrenia that cause auditory hallucinations include:
- Depression: A persistent feeling of severe despair or sadness.
- Bipolar disorder: A condition of extreme mood swings or emotional highs and lows
- Personality disorders: These disorders involve a way of behaving or thinking that differs from cultural expectations or that causes problems in functioning. A schizotypal personality disorder is one of these that may involve illusions or unusual perceptions, which can also include auditory illusions.
- Parasomnias: Sleep disorders that involve undesirable events, such as sleepwalking or talking during sleep.
There are neurological conditions that may be responsible for auditory hallucinations, including:
- cerebral tumors, growths of atypical cells in the cerebral part of the brain
- epilepsy, a condition involving seizures
- tinnitus, ringing in the ears
- delirium, an acutely atypical state of mind that manifests in incoherent thoughts or speech
- traumatic brain injury, damage to the brain resulting from sudden trauma, such as a blow to the head
- viral encephalitis, inflammation to the brain due to a viral infection
- cardiovascular events that affect certain regions of the brain, such as stroke
- acquired deafness, hearing loss that occurs after birth
- nutritional deficiencies, inadequate intake of vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients
- thyroid dysfunction, a condition where the thyroid does not make the typical, healthy amount of hormones
- an autoimmune disorder, a condition where the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body
- chromosomal abnormalities, conditions that stem from a change in the number or structure of chromosomes
- temporary extreme physical or psychological stress, which refers to a serious stressor, such as bereavement or tiredness
Research from 2017 notes that auditory hallucinations may also occur with alcohol or drug misuse.
Treating and managing auditory hallucinations vary according to the underlying condition.
Treatment of psychosis
The antipsychotic medication clozapine (Clozaril) is the most effective option for treating symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations. It is a dopamine antagonist, which means it binds to and blocks dopamine receptors, a neurotransmitter that may play a role in schizophrenia.
Despite this benefit, clozapine may cause severe side effects, such as blood disorders. If a person takes this drug, a doctor should monitor them with regular blood testing.
Treatment of other underlying conditions
- taking thyroid medication to correct a thyroid hormone deficiency
- changing the diet to reverse nutritional deficiencies
- taking anti-seizure medication, such as phenytoin (Dilantin), to treat epilepsy
Additionally, an older 2011 study reports that using a hearing aid can correct hearing loss and ease the associated music hallucinations the condition can cause.
Treatment of hallucinations that are resistant to drug treatment
A 2018 case study states that not everyone with auditory verbal hallucinations responds to drug treatment. Limited options are available for these people, but one is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches someone to change how they experience the hallucinations. CBT is the psychological intervention that doctors most commonly use for auditory hallucinations, but it frequently leads to only modest effects.
The study relates a case involving the use of avatar therapy for auditory hallucinations. In this intervention, the therapist created a digital representation, or avatar, of the presumed “persecutor,” from whom the auditory hallucinations originated. Then, the therapist encouraged the person to enter into a dialog with the persecutor. The results indicated that avatar therapy may help people with auditory hallucinations that do not respond to other treatments.
Health experts advise seeking medical help for any hallucinations.
Some auditory hallucinations
A person with auditory hallucinations hears voices, sounds, cries, or music that do not come from an external source. The kind involving voices is
Treatment for auditory hallucinations depends on the cause. To illustrate, doctors treat the cause of schizophrenia with antipsychotic medication, the cause of nutritional deficiencies with dietary intervention, and the cause of hearing loss with a hearing aid.
Generally, anyone who experiences any kind of hallucination should seek medical help, as these symptoms can be dangerous.