By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Hallucinations can be extremely distressing but they are usually the result of an identifiable cause that a sufferer may be able to receive treatment for.
Certain measures can be taken to prevent or reduce hallucination, although a psychologist or psychiatrist may need to be consulted in cases of hallucination caused by mental illness. If hallucinations are causing significant distress, antipsychotic medication may be prescribed.
Some of the approaches used to treat hallucination are described below:
- General measures that can be taken to reduce the frequency or severity of hallucinations include stress management, healthy living, regular exercise and sleeping well.
- The use of illicit drugs such as cocaine, LSD, amphetamines or ecstasy can cause hallucinations. Excessive alcohol consumption is another cause. These hallucinations can occur during periods of withdrawal from drugs or alcohol if the substances are stopped too suddenly. People experiencing hallucinations due to drugs or alcohol withdrawal can be given medication to help prevent the hallucinations occurring. Rehabilitation programs are also available to help the patient recover from their addiction.
- Psychosocial strategies used to help manage hallucination include education and counselling to help the patient and their family cope with the hallucinations and understand the importance of medication compliance.
- Examples of antipsychotic medications used to treat hallucinations include haloperidol, olanzapine and risperidone.
- Hallucinations can occur as a side effect of the treatment for Parkinson’s disease. If this occurs, the patient’s medication may require adjustment. Usually, amantadine and anticholinergics are stopped first. Thereafter, dopamine agonists may be withdrawn. Clozapine and quetiapine are examples of neuroleptic drugs that may help treat hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease.
- Other problems that occur as a result of hallucination such as memory disturbance, sleep disorder, depression, anxiety and associated panic attacks may also need to be managed with treatment.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Jul 24, 2014