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Psychology| What are Hallucinations? CBT Kenya
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  • Posted by: cbtkeadmin

Psychology| What are Hallucinations? CBT Kenya

If you’re like most folks, you probably think hallucinations have to do with seeing things that aren’t really there. But there’s a lot more to it than that. It could mean you touch or even smell something that doesn’t exist. Hallucinations can be a sign of a mental health illness, but they do not always mean a person is unwell. Hallucinations are, in fact, relatively common. They can happen any time there is a change in brain activity. For example, some people are more vulnerable to hallucinations when they are falling asleep or partially waking.

Symptoms of Hallucinations

  • Feeling sensations in the body (such as a crawling feeling on the skin or movement)
  • Hearing sounds (such as music, footsteps, or banging of doors)
  • Hearing voices (can include positive or negative voices, such as a voice commanding you to harm yourself or others)
  • Seeing objects, beings, or patterns or lights
  • Smelling an odor (can be pleasant or foul and in one or both nostrils)
  • Tasting something (often a metallic taste)

Common causes of Hallucinations

  • Withdrawal from alcohol can cause hallucinations, especially in people who experience a severe withdrawal syndrome called delirium tremens. A person with delirium tremens may also become very sick, vomit, or shake. Symptoms usually disappear after several days.
  • Dementia progressively damages the brain, including regions involved with sensory processing. People in mid to late stage dementia may experience auditory and visual hallucinations.
  • Sometimes hallucinations are a symptom of a seizure disorder. A person may experience hallucinations during or after a seizure. In most cases, treating the seizures prevents the hallucinations.
  • Some people with migraines experience hallucinations during or right before a migraine. These hallucinations are often visual. A person might see spots and colors that are not there or other unusual images.
  • People with hearing or vision loss may experience hallucinations. This may be due to brain changes in sensory processing regions or in the visual or auditory information the brain receives.

Types of Hallucinations

  • Auditory: Hearing voices or sounds that no one else can (most common type of hallucination)
  • Visual: Seeing people, colors, shapes, or items that aren’t real (second most common type of hallucination)
  • Tactile: Feeling sensations (like bugs crawling under your skin) or as if you’re being touched when you’re not
  • Olfactory: Smelling something that has no physical source (less common than visual and auditory hallucinations)
  • Gustatory: Having a taste in your mouth that has no source (rarest type of hallucination)


  • Counseling might also be part of your treatment plan. This is particularly true if the underlying cause of your hallucinations is a mental health condition. Speaking with a counselor can help you get a better understanding of what’s happening to you. A counselor can also help you develop coping strategies, particularly for when you’re feeling scared or paranoid.
  • Although it can be frightening and uncomfortable when a loved one experiences a hallucination, it’s important to do your best to respond in a calm, supportive manner. For example, you might say “I know this is scary for you” or “Don’t worry; I’m here.”
  • Depending on the severity of the hallucination, gently touching or patting your loved one may help serve as a distraction and reduce the hallucination. Other possible distractions include conversation, music, or a move to another room.
  • While you don’t want to upset your loved one or engage in an argument, you do want to be honest and assure them that you’re not dismissing their concerns. If they ask: “Did you hear that?” Consider saying: “I know you heard something, but I didn’t hear it.”

Word from CBT Kenya

If you know someone who’s hallucinating, don’t leave them alone. In some severe cases, fear and paranoia triggered by hallucinations can lead to dangerous actions or behaviors. Stay with the person at all times and go with them to the doctor for emotional support. You may also be able to help answer questions about their symptoms and how often they occur.

Recovery from hallucinations depends on the cause. If you’re not sleeping enough or you’re drinking too much, these behaviors can be adjusted. If your condition is caused by a mental illness, like schizophrenia, taking the right medications can improve your hallucinations significantly. By seeing a doctor immediately and following a treatment plan, you’re more likely to have a positive long-term outcome.

At CBT Kenya, we have friendly yet professional psychologists who are ready to have a talk with you. We encourage you to find out more about our services. We welcome any questions. Any questions related to psychotherapy, counselling, and psychology services are welcomed. Our purpose is to help you to achieve your therapeutic and life goals, to improve the quality of your life and to help you to build strong relationships in your life. Get in touch or book an appointment on +254 739 935 333, +254 756 454 585 or info@cbtkenya.org.

Author: cbtkeadmin
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