I am 37 years old and over the past week I have begun hearing voices, sort of, it’s more like random words and gibberish that pop into my head on and off, mostly when I’m tired or falling asleep.
I have been under a great deal of stress in my professional and private life for the past two months and I cannot get a good night’s sleep as I find myself waking up every hour or so for no reason. I spend most of my day either nodding off, kind of floating through my life like I’m on autopilot or in such a panic over my possible health issues, I find myself unable to think of anything else.
Mentally, I am having difficulty focusing on any one task, I forget things often, my train of thought is easily interrupted and of course, I’m dealing with these noises. Physically I am just exhausted, I can fall asleep just about anywhere quiet, sometimes without noticing, I always feel pressure in my ears and I am smoking almost two packs of cigarettes a day.
I do not have a history of Schizophrenia in my family, I do not use illegal drugs and I rarely drink.
Does this sound like schizophrenia or any other mental illness?
A. Not all hallucinations are indicative of a psychotic disorder. Some hallucinations are the result of drug and alcohol use, medical conditions or sleep disorders.
You described having hallucinations while falling asleep. These are commonly referred to as hypnagogic hallucinations. Some people experience hallucinations just before or during awakening. These are called hypnopompic hallucinations. Both types of hallucinations are associated with anxiety disorders, depression, insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, and narcolepsy.
Sleep deprivation negatively impacts concentration, mood and stress levels. Studies have shown that individuals with prolonged sleep deprivation can experience schizophrenia-like symptoms.
I cannot provide a diagnosis over the Internet. A psychiatric evaluation could determine a mental health diagnosis.
You should consult a primary care physician about your sleep difficulties and inquire about having a sleep study. A sleep study measures how well you sleep. It could uncover what’s causing your sleep problems.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Randle, K. (2014). Possible Schizophrenia?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/08/16/possible-schizophrenia/