Repeatedly, when we hear someone refer to hallucinations or delusions, our mind conjures up images of a person who is crazy and who is a threat to our safety. Often we think of someone with Schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is an example of a thought disorder, characterized by a history of acute psychosis and chronic deterioration of functioning, lasting for at least six months and affecting thinking, perception, mood and behaviour. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.
What Are Delusions and Hallucinations?
Delusions and hallucinations are psychotic symptoms that someone may experience when the brain is not functioning properly. They can be a part of the illness of Schizophrenia, along with a host of other symptoms, but can also occur in someone who is experiencing deep Depression or Bipolar Disorder.
Hallucinations and delusions are not the same thing, but can play on each other.
Hallucinations may influence the form of someone’s delusions. A person, who experiences the hallucination that their food tastes funny may also conclude that someone is poisoning them. Click to tweet
Understanding Schizophrenia and the Impact of Delusions and Hallucinations
Delusions are ‘false beliefs’ that distort the person’s view of reality are very common with Schizophrenia. The delusions may be around identity or situations surrounding the person. Someone experiencing a delusion may believe that they are the Son of God or the Queen of England. They may believe that they are being followed, watched, or the victim of an evil plot.
Hallucinations are ‘false senses’ that affect their sense of sight, sound, taste, touch, or smell. They may involve the experience of seeing spiders crawling over the room, tasting poison in their food, feeling a hand on their shoulder, smelling gas being pumped into their apartment, or hearing a voice out of nowhere.
Hallucinations may influence the form of someone’s delusions. A person, who experiences the hallucination that their food tastes funny may also conclude that someone is poisoning them.
Coping With Hallucinations And Delusions
Delusions and hallucinations make it very difficult for a person to cope in our society and trying to find coping strategies can be a never-ending process. Stress can play a major factor in bringing the delusions and hallucinations about or making their Schizophrenia worse. Complex medications can ease these symptoms, but utilizing effective stress management techniques can also assist. Relaxation, music, deep breathing, quite space, exercise and hobbies can relax the person or distract them from their experience.
Beverly’s Hot Tip For Building Resiliency and Celebrating Schizophrenia Awareness Week:
Experiencing hallucinations and delusions does not mean that someone is dangerous or ‘crazy’. It does show that their brain chemistry is not working appropriately, but we know that when correctly identified and treated they can lead a more successful and productive life.
Reach out to your doctor if you are concerned about what you are experiencing or about what a family member or friend may be experiencing. Schizophrenia is a serious health issue and early medical support is paramount. It is also important to rule out other medical illnesses that may be causing hallucinations or delusions.
Don’t let fear, guilt or shame get in the way of getting the information and help that you need.
Education is the key to eliminating stigma, shame, and guilt. Look for opportunities to share information, and support those who may be struggling.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!
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