What are Hallucinations?
Hallucinations are illusions that affect one or more of our five senses. They cause sensory experiences that seem completely real, whereas it is all in the mind. An example includes hearing voices while alone in the house or seeing images that the person next to you doesn’t.
What Causes Hallucinations?
Several factors can cause sensory hallucinations, such as;
- Mental conditions like dementia, delirium, and schizophrenia
- Side effects of certain medications
- Neurological conditions like epilepsy
- Lack of sleep
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Taking drugs such as psilocybin, amphetamines, ecstasy, LSD, and cocaine
Types of Hallucinations:
Visual hallucinations can be described as seeing a distorted version of things in your surroundings. These distortions are primarily experienced by individuals who consume psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, PCP, DMT, Ayahuasca, and others.
The hallucinations range from mild to extreme: in low doses, users have a pleasant experience characterized by visualizing extra vivid colors, discovering new patterns that they wouldn’t normally notice, and seeing halos around familiar objects.
Higher doses can result in seeing objects, people, or shapes that are not there, which can cause a lot of confusion and inability to decipher what is real and what is not.
Sometimes, the users may experience sudden mood changes as the hallucinations shift from mild to extreme.
This hallucination type involves hearing voices that are non-existent or hearing a distorted version of what was originally said. The voices can range from low to loud and from pleasantly friendly to frighteningly intimidating.
Auditory hallucinations primarily affect individuals with certain mental conditions like schizophrenia or psychosis; however, psychedelic drugs can also be the cause.
Tactile hallucinations present as whole-body sensations that appear real but aren’t. It is purely physical, and the brain is tricked into believing that something or someone is touching them.
In extreme cases, the user will experience intense fear as they feel things, mostly bugs crawling inside their skin. Users of crystal meth might find this illusion too real that they end up hurting themselves, trying to eliminate the bugs. Eventually, their skin ends up scarred and exposed to infections.
These types of hallucinations affect an individual’s sense of smell, such that they smell non-existent odors. They are associated with epilepsy and neurological damage.
Olfactory hallucinations are quite rare, but when they occur, an individual is subjected to a lot of stress due to their inability to tell apart real smells from hallucinated ones.
Gustatory hallucinations affect your sense of taste in that your palate experiences unpleasant and strange flavors, often with hints of metal that do not exist. They mainly affect epileptic patients, though they are sporadic.
Treatment for hallucinations
The treatment depends on the root cause of the hallucinations: if it’s a health condition, a medical practitioner might suggest drugs that suppress the illusions.
For people whose hallucination results from lack of sleep, a better sleeping routine is encouraged. The patient may be prescribed some drugs to facilitate regular, uninterrupted, and peaceful sleep.
Managing alcohol consumption may be beneficial in reducing hallucinogenic episodes.
Ceasing from taking drugs or microdosing might offer the best solution to drug-related hallucinations. Microdosing on psychedelics allows the user to tap into the myriad of therapeutic benefits compounds like psilocybin have to offer without experiencing the side effects.
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