What Are Hallucinations and How Do Medications Cause Them?

Hallucinations, the experience of seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling something that is not really there. This article covers what hallucinations are and how they are caused. It also covers types of hallucinations and the effect medications can have on a person’s mind.

What are hallucinations and what causes them?

Hallucinations are defined as perceptions that are not real. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including medications, brain injury, and mental illness. Medications that can cause hallucinations include stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines, sedatives like Valium and Xanax, and antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft. Many people experience hallucinations for the first time when they start taking these drugs, but others have them intermittently throughout their lives.

Types of hallucinations

Hallucinations can be classified into five different types:




gustatory, and


1.Visual hallucinations

they are the most common type, and people typically see things that aren’t really there.

2.Auditory hallucinations involve hearing voices or sounds that aren’t real.

3. Olfactory hallucinations involve smelling things that aren’t really there.

4.Gustatory hallucinations involve tasting things that aren’t really there.

5. Tactile hallucinations involve feeling things that aren’t really there.

Hallucinations can also be caused by medications. Some common medications that can cause hallucinations include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and medication for seizure disorders.

However, not all hallucinogens cause hallucinations; some only cause unusual perceptions, while others are more likely to cause full-blown hallucinations.


Hallucinations are defined as perceptions that are not real. They can be caused by medications, medical conditions, or brain lesions. Most hallucinations occur during sleep, but they can also happen during wakefulness. Some common types of hallucinations include:

– Visual: People may see things that aren’t there, such as people, animals, or objects.

– Auditory: People may hear things that aren’t there, such as voices or music.

– Olfactory: People may smell things that aren’t there, such as perfume or marijuana smoke.

– gustatory: People may taste things that aren’t there, such as juice or food.

– Tactile: People may feel things that aren’t there, such as pressure on the skin.

Causes of hallucination

Types of medications that cause hallucination: Antipsychotics, stimulants, benzodiazepines, antidepressants

Common Causes of Hallucinations

Hallucinations most often result from:

Schizophrenia. More than 70% of people with this illness get visual hallucinations, and 60%-90% hear voices. But some may also smell and taste things that aren’t there.

Parkinson’s disease. Up to half of people who have this condition sometimes see things that aren’t there.

Alzheimer’s disease. and other forms of dementia, especially Lewy body dementia. They cause changes in the brain that can bring on hallucinations. It may be more likely to happen when your disease is advanced.

Migraines. About a third of people with this kind of headache also have an “aura,” a type of visual hallucination. It can look like a multicolored crescent of light.

Brain tumor. Depending on where it is, it can cause different types of hallucinations. If it’s in an area that has to do with vision, you may see things that aren’t real. You might also see spots or shapes of light. Tumors in some parts of the brain can cause hallucinations of smell and taste.

Charles Bonnet syndrome. This condition causes people with vision problems like macular degeneration, glaucoma, or cataracts to see things. At first, you may not realize it’s a hallucination, but eventually, you figure out that what you’re seeing isn’t real.

Epilepsy. The seizures that go along with this disorder can make you more likely to have hallucinations. The type you get depends on which part of your brain the seizure affects.


Hearing Things (Auditory Hallucinations)

You may sense that the sounds are coming from inside or outside your mind. You might hear the voices talking to each other or feel like they’re telling you to do something. Causes could include:


Bipolar disorder


Borderline personality disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder

Hearing loss

Sleep disorders

Brain lesions

Drug use

Seeing Things (Visual Hallucinations)

For example, you might:

See things others don’t, like insects crawling on your hand or on the face of someone you know

See objects with the wrong shape or see things moving in ways they usually don’t

Sometimes they look like flashes of light. A rare type of seizure called “occipital” may cause you to see brightly colored spots or shapes. Other causes include:

Irritation in the visual cortex, the part of your brain that helps you see

Damage to brain tissue (the doctor will call this lesions)


Schizoaffective disorder


Bipolar disorder

Delirium (from infections, drug use and withdrawal, or body and brain problems)


Parkinson’s disease



Brain lesions and tumors

Sleep problems

Drugs that make you hallucinate

Metabolism problems

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Smelling Things (Olfactory Hallucinations)

You may think the odor is coming from something around you, or that it’s coming from your own body. Causes can include:

Head injury


Temporal lobe seizure

Inflamed sinuses

Brain tumors

Parkinson’s disease

Tasting Things (Gustatory Hallucinations)

You may feel that something you eat or drink has an odd taste. Causes can include:

Temporal lobe disease

Brain lesions

Sinus diseases


Feeling Things (Tactile or Somatic Hallucinations)

You might think you’re being tickled even when no one else is around, or you may feel like insects are crawling on or under your skin. You could feel a blast of hot air on your face that isn’t real.


Hallucinations are experiences that seem real but are not. They can be caused by medications, alcohol, or other substances. Some common hallucinations are seeing things that are not there, hearing voices, and feeling bugs crawling on skin. If you are having a hallucination, it is important to talk to your doctor about what is causing it so that you can get the best possible treatment.

They may need to do tests to help figure out the problem. For instance, an EEG, or electroencephalogram, checks for unusual patterns of electrical activity in your brain. It could show if your hallucinations are due to seizures.
You might get an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, which uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make pictures of the inside of your body. It can find out if a brain tumor or something else, like an area that’s had a small stroke, could be to blame.
Your doctor will treat the condition that’s causing the hallucinations. This can include things like:

Medication for schizophrenia or dementias like Alzheimer’s disease

Antiseizure drugs to treat epilepsy

Treatment for macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts

Surgery or radiation to treat tumors

Drugs called triptans, beta-blockers, or anticonvulsants for people with migraines

Your doctor may prescribe pimavanserin (Nuplazid). This medicine treats

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