What Causes Hallucinations? 14 Common Causes (You Should Know)

Hallucinations refer to experiences that involve sensing smells, sounds, and visions that appear real but are constructed only in the individual’s mind. Often, they can be indicators of mental health disorders. However, they don’t necessarily mean that the individual isn’t well. Contrary to popular belief, hallucinations are relatively common. For example, in a 2015 study, researchers found that over seven percent of people have had life-long experiences of hearing non-existent voices. 

Further studies in South Africa had put those with hallucinations in the population higher at nearly thirteen percent. It’s still not fully understood why some experience these episodes of apparent perceptions of things that aren’t present in reality while others don’t. Neither is there conclusive evidence supporting the triggers behind the cause of conditions like schizophrenia. Nonetheless, hallucinations can occur at any given time when there are abnormal changes in the brain’s activities. For example, you can become more susceptible to it when partially walking.

Research involving mice that were given hallucinogenic drugs found far less activity on the brain regions associated with managing visual information. Thus, some believe hallucination to be a way to compensate for sensory information drops.  

Drug Use

Hallucinations can be a common side-effect of drug use. It may even occur to those taking prescribed medication, especially when they’re not taken according to the directions. As a result, comprehensive research has been conducted on how drugs can potentially cause hallucinations and how they can exacerbate bouts of the condition. Some substances that can induce psychosis are hallucinogens, which are diverse drug groups that alter an individual’s awareness, surroundings, thoughts, and feelings.

The two primary hallucinogens categories are classic, such as LCDs, and dissociative, such as PCP. Both cause sensations that appear natural, although they aren’t. Additionally, the latter can make users feel disconnected from the environment and their bodies. While specific hallucinogens are taken from mushrooms or plants, others are synthetic or man-made. Historically, they’ve been utilized for medicinal or religious purposes. However, most people today use them for recreational and social goals.

Examples of popular hallucinogens are LSD, considered one of—if not the most—chemicals for mind-altering; psilocybin, commonly found in mushrooms; and PCP, which had initially been developed as an anesthetic in the fifties. However, it’s ill-advised to use hallucinogens, as they may cause potentially dangerous and fatal short-term and long-term effects.