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Hearing Voices And Mental Health

She slowly crossed the isle in search of a seat near the window. Her heart shaped face and large round eyes enhanced her natural beauty. Sitting her tiny frame in an oversized club chair, she turned, smiled, and whispered, “I hear voices”.

There are people from all walks of life, across all dogmas, ethnic groups, and acumens who accept and believe in fortune tellers, card readers, and psychics. They accept receiving messages from deities, uttering unknown languages in ritual gatherings, and being guided by ancestral voices, yet when someone says, “I hear voices”, people assume mental illness.

 

What Does Hearing Voices Mean for Mental Health?

Hearing voices is not always a sign of being mentally unwell. Many find the voices helpful and consider them part of their personality. However, not knowing or acknowledging the cause, a clinical diagnosis from an Improving Lives Counseling Services’ counselor or therapist is strongly suggested. History shows left undiagnosed, hearing voices can lead to behavioral disorders, substance abuse, promiscuity, criminal activity, physical pain, and in some cases, suicide.

It is important to separate hearing voices, or auditory hallucinations, from craved spiritual experiences. In these settings, hearing voices can be comforting, reassuring, and consoling. Hearing the voice of someone recently lost is common and people find it comforting. Clairaudient and telepathic dreams involve hearing clear, distinct voices, usually from someone you know or are close to. Students studying for a test – listing to a lecture over and over again might hear the voice of the person on the recording. Hearing voices in a state of sleep paralysis, however, or within sleep cycles (REM sleep) can be troubling. Whether the message was profound or not, one of our licensed counselors or therapists should be consulted.

 

What May Cause Someone to Hear Voices?

Many physical illnesses such as high fevers and infections, heart disease, brain tumors, alcoholism, thyroid disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension can cause a person to hear voices. Side effects from a new medication, or a higher dose of something already prescribed can lead to hearing unexplained sounds or voices.

Mental illness is the most common cause of auditory hallucinations. Patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, other types of dementia, epilepsy, schizophrenia, chronic anxiety, intense stress, schizoaffective disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and bipolar disorder are predisposed to hearing voices. Patients diagnosed with dehydration, heat stroke, impaired cognitive function, delirium, and/or unconsciousness report hearing unrecognized sounds, music, and voices.

Researchers have linked COVID-19 to neuropsychiatry – mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system. Case studies found the virus itself can produce psychosis. One presented case reported: “a medically healthy patient with no psychiatric history developed command suicidal hallucinations as the initial manifestation of COVID-19. Another reported a patient with no psychiatric history heard voices (auditory hallucinations) which told her she was infected and should seek help.” Recent studies found COVID-19 ICU patients experienced both visual and auditory hallucinations.

Auditory hallucinations can engage a person in conversation, be flattering and supportive, or harsh and critical. Voices can become mean and painfully loud, make derogatory comments, and make dangerous commands. The mentally healthy who hear voices are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts. Yet, research shows only 7%-12% of auditory hallucinations cause someone to commit a crime. Crimes committed by someone who hears voices generally has a related diagnosed mental illness.

 

Meet With Our Oklahoma Mental Health Counselors Today

If you or someone you care about is hearing voices, call us. Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of professional licensed counselors and therapists can provide coping strategies, and ways to quiet the voices, in the mentally healthy, and the mentally ill. Whether the voices are related to a deity, a ritual, a physical health condition, or a mental illness, diagnosis and treatment protects the patient by putting the patient in control. You are not alone. Call us at 918-960-7852.