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Helping a Person Who Is Hallucinating

A hallucination is a perception of something that is not really there. It can involve any of the 5 senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, or touch. For example, you may hear voices that nobody else hears or see something that nobody else sees.

How to talk with your loved one

Not all hallucinations are distressing or need treatment, but sometimes they can be scary or disorienting. If your loved one is experiencing a hallucination and seems scared or confused, there are ways that you can help them calm down and get back in touch with reality. You could:

  • Approach your loved one calmly while saying their name.

  • Ask your loved one to tell you what is happening.

  • Ask whether they are scared or confused.

  • Tell your loved one that you do not see or hear what they do, and that it is a hallucination. If they can’t understand or don’t believe you, don't argue. The person needs to feel that it's OK to talk to you about what they’re experiencing.

  • Talk with your loved one about the experience and ask whether there is anything you can do to help.

Many people stop hallucinating just from interacting with other people. If your loved one is still bothered by hallucinations, suggest some ideas that tend to work. You can try:

  • Suggesting that the person tell the voices to go away

  • Suggesting that they listen to music or watch TV

  • Involving the person in other activities

Other strategies that can help

You could also try the following:

  • Consider possible causes that can be addressed, such as low blood sugar, lack of sleep, or drug use. Suggest to the person that this could be the reason for the hallucinations.

  • Talk with your loved one and their treatment team. They will have ideas for how you and your loved one can cope with hallucinations. If hallucinations persist, it may signal that a new dose or different type of medicine could be tried.


Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 3/1/2019
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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