I Have A Voice Saying People Don’t Like Me…Am I Mad?

Reader’s Question

I am a lady, 51 years old. I have suffered from the following symptoms since 17 years old, but felt not able to share my symptoms with anyone as I thought I was going MAD.

I experience a voice in my head saying that people don’t like me. This voice is very believable and makes me feel very scared and panicked. I feel very depressed that people should not like me and now it is as if I want to hide away and become reclusive and not be with people, as the voices usually happen when I am socializing with other people. My life has become impossible, as I seem to be a slave to these voices.

Am I going Mad or is this a neurochemical imbalance?

Psychologist’s Reply

I don’t have a clear picture of what kind of “voice” you are experiencing. The Voice may be an auditory hallucination — a voice that is projected outside the head/body and seems to be out of your control. In your description, this is less likely as your Voice surfaces when socializing with people.

It is quite likely that your Voice is part of a depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive condition. Rather than an actual “voice” that engages in a conversation, you seem to be describing an “obsessive thought”. Obsessive thoughts are very common in depression, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and they surface and increase as our anxiety level increases. Being in public or in an uncomfortable social situation could cause them to appear while they would not appear when you are calm or relaxed.

Are you going mad? No! Is this a neurochemical imbalance? Yes. In research, elevations in the neurotransmitter Dopamine often produce auditory hallucinations, while decreased levels of Serotonin are associated with depression and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. If your Voice is an obsessive thought — as I suspect — you will have additional symptoms associated with lower levels of Serotonin such as chronic fatigue, social withdrawal, depression, sleep and appetite problems, crying spells, poor concentration, loss of sexual interest, loss of humor, emotional hypersensitivity, and even behavioral rituals (counting, handwashing, etc.).

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The good news — both situations are relatively easy to fix. Medications are available to fix both situations. I would recommend a psychiatric consultation to determine which neurotransmitter is involved and what medication might correct the imbalance. Prior to your consultation, spend a week monitoring your Voices — when do they appear, do they say the same thing each time, do you have other symptoms, etc.? Take depression and other screening tests on this website.

View the Voice as a symptom of your chemistry, nothing else. It probably surfaces each time your anxiety goes up, much in the same way that some people stutter/stammer when they become anxious. Everyone has some type of anxiety/tension warning sign and your Voice may be yours. Once the Voice is under control with medications, seek counseling and rebuild your social confidence and social skills, making it less likely the Voice will appear in the future.

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