Do you hear voices or noises that are not really there? This could be a symptom of a deeper mental health disorder. Hearing something that is not real can be startling and sometimes scary. Fortunately, you are not alone. Somewhere between 5% to 28% of people have these experiences, which are called auditory hallucinations. The word “auditory” refers to anything related to hearing, from music to voices. You might have heard of hallucinations before, which happen when someone experiences something that does not actually exist. Many people think of hallucinations as visual, but auditory hallucinations are actually more common. These hallucinations can have many causes. To understand some potential causes of your auditory hallucinations, it can be helpful to learn about the mental health disorders that most often trigger them.
Mental health disorders that can trigger auditory hallucinations
- Schizophrenia — Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health disorder. People with schizophrenia can have scattered thoughts and hallucinations. Schizophrenia also tends to cause delusions, which are strong beliefs that are not true. For example, someone with schizophrenia might believe an event happened in the past that never actually occurred. The hallucinations caused by schizophrenia can affect several senses including hearing. Hallucinations are a hallmark of this disorder. People with schizophrenia often report hearing voices that seem real to them. The signs of schizophrenia typically appear between the ages of 16 and 30. However, it is possible for them to show up earlier. If you are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, finding a licensed clinical therapist can be essential for managing the symptoms and keeping you grounded.
- Bipolar disorder — Bipolar disorder can be unpredictable. One day you might be feeling super energetic. The next day you might feel tired and depressed. Bipolar disorder involves intense mood changes, swinging between highs and lows. Auditory hallucinations are a common symptom of this disorder. During the “highs,” which are called manic episodes, someone might hear voices encouraging risky behavior. During the “low” depressive episodes, the voices might be more negative and critical. You may have heard before that bipolar disorder does not affect kids and teens. This is a common misperception. While most people are diagnosed later in life, bipolar disorder can affect young people too. It is important to find a therapist who hears you out and values your lived experience regardless of age.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — Experiencing a traumatic event can have lasting effects. This event could be something shocking or scary that harmed you in some way. If you are feeling recurrent mental distress after something traumatic has happened, you might have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The intrusive thoughts and atypical behavior that often come with PTSD can be disruptive in your daily life. You might also find yourself avoiding certain people or places that remind you of your trauma. On top of these other symptoms, people with PTSD often experience auditory hallucinations. Unlike some other mental health disorders, the auditory hallucinations caused by PTSD are not always voices. The sounds people report hearing tend to be related to their trauma. These sounds can include loud, sudden noises. Sometimes it can feel like you are reliving a traumatic memory. Untreated PTSD can make everyday activities more frightening. With the help of therapeutic treatment, you can work to process your past trauma and manage PTSD symptoms.
- Major depressive disorder — Major depressive disorder, often just called depression, is one of the most common mental health disorders. While other disorders can cause depressive symptoms, major depressive disorder is characterized by depressed moods. Depression does not always manifest as extreme sadness. Sometimes depression just makes you feel numb or unmotivated. You might feel disconnected from the world. When someone has depression, their mood can alter their perception of reality. You can have a pretty “good” life on the outside and still feel depressed inside. Auditory hallucinations are not a common symptom of depression, but they can happen. According to one study, around 10% of individuals with major depression experience auditory hallucinations. These voices can be like echoes of the negative thoughts brought on by depression. When you are feeling depressed, it is important not to go through it alone. A holistic treatment approach can help you improve your mood and mental health from the bottom up.
Lightfully can help treat the causes of your auditory hallucinations
Hearing sounds that aren’t there? Lightfully Behavioral Health can help you manage these auditory hallucinations. Our Teen levels of care dedicated to the primary mental health of 12- to 17-year-olds are equipped to offer treatment tailored to your needs. With treatments driven by compassion and kindness, our clinical model is designed to help you make real progress on your mental health journey.
Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.