Hearing Voices and Seeing Ghosts

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Reader’s Question

I have been hearing voices for a while now. When my husband tries to talk to me, the voices talk over him. I have also been seeing ghosts.

I’m about to go crazy just hearing the voices. Do I need to go check myself into a mental hospital in order to get help?

Psychologist’s Reply

Only an assessment by a duly trained mental health professional can yield the cause of your symptoms. But you don’t necessarily have to check yourself into an institution to get the help you need. Generally speaking, especially given the stat of the art with respect to diagnosis and treatment, institutionalization is primarily recommended for individuals who present an acute danger to themselves or others.

Hallucinations (the internal mental perception of something that occurs in the absence of a real physical external stimulus) are cardinal symptoms of various types of psychoses and can be features of diseases like Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and other disorders. Auditory hallucinations are by far the more common types reported. But visual hallucinations can occur, although they more often raise flags about a possible different etiology than do auditory hallucinations.

A psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or advanced mental health practitioner is your best bet for securing an accurate diagnosis. Depending on the suspected etiology, you might be referred for certain types of diagnostic tests. The recommended treatment is most likely to depend upon the presumed causes of the problems you’re experiencing.

You rightfully describe how distressing such symptoms can be. So, it’s really important to seek a competent professional assessment.

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