We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Hallucinations?

By Jessica Hobby
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
TheHealthBoard is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At TheHealthBoard, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Hallucinations are false perceptions that occur without an external stimulus, unlike illusions which are a mistaken perception of real things that are caused by an external stimulus. Hallucinations may be caused by a wide variety of things and occur within all senses of the body. However, a person must be awake to experience them, unlike dreams which occur while someone is sleeping.

People who suffer from mood disorders such as schizophrenia and depression frequently hallucinate. Schizophrenics commonly hear voices and sounds which are auditory hallucinations that are believed to be caused by high levels of dopamine in a person’s brain. Although schizophrenics also experience visual hallucinations, seeing things which aren’t really there, they are most common in manic depressives, especially elderly people.

Another common cause is drug use. Regardless of the legality of the drug in question, hallucinogens cause false perceptions because they disrupt the normal balance of neurotransmitters in a person’s brain. People who use cocaine, crystal meth or other amphetamines may hallucinate because of an overproduction of dopamine in the brain. Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, is responsible for blocking the functions of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Phencyclidine (PCP) causes people to hallucinate by blocking glutamate. Haptic hallucinations, which occur when a person feels something which is not there, are rare in general, but are seen mostly in drug users.

Medications prescribed for depression, sleep aids and certain anesthetics may cause someone to hallucinate. Medications including ketamine, paroxetine, mirtazapine and zolpidem have hallucinogenic side effects. Antiretroviral medications used to treat HIV and antipsychotics used for Alzheimer’s patients are also believed to cause hallucinations in some people.

In addition to drug use, alcohol use may also cause people to hallucinate. More specifically, the abrupt cessation of alcohol use may cause auditory hallucinations in people. After a few days of withdrawal, when the delirium tremens (DTs) begin, it is common for people to visually hallucinate.

Disorders caused by the imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain commonly cause people to hallucinate. One example is narcolepsy, where people uncontrollably sleep for brief periods. In addition to auditory and visual hallucinating, it is common for narcoleptics to experience gustatory and olfactory hallucinations. A gustatory hallucination occurs when a person tastes something that is not present, while an olfactory hallucination occurs when a person smells something that is not there.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By FitzMaurice — On Jan 28, 2011


There is a genuine vision which people may have for the future, and there is such thing as genuine motivation and ambition based on a sense of destiny. Not all senses of purpose are delusional. The main difference between a false hallucination and a real desire or purpose is the fact that the latter case has a solid foundation in reality and wants to help others, rather than merely exalt the self.

By arod2b42 — On Jan 27, 2011

Psychotic hallucinations may include delusions of grandeur and a sense of manifest destiny. Many people believe that they have been chosen by God for a special mission when they have these kinds of hallucinations. The resulting actions and conviction of profound purpose may be disturbing, and they may lead others to do ridiculous things along with them.

By SilentBlue — On Jan 25, 2011

Gustatory and olfactory hallucinations are not pleasant, but are possibly the safest form of hallucinations. When someone tastes and smells things that are not there, it is important for them to seek help. Seeing and hearing things can be much worse, however.

By Qohe1et — On Jan 24, 2011

Dementia can cause a number of hallucinations to occur, especially in elderly people who have had brain problems or deterioration. Many of these hallucinations may relate to distant memories of younger years. Much of recent history can also be forgotten, and someone suffering from dementia might call close friends by the names of old friends who have passed away.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.