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Occasional Internal Auditory Hallucinations

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I am quite concerned that I may be developing schizophrenia, or some similar issue. I’m 20 years old, and have always dealt with anxiety, as well as some hypochondria. My health anxiety peaked in high school for several months, and it was during this time that I began experiencing internal auditory hallucinations.

They would occur at night, as I was falling asleep. The best way to describe it would be like a radio randomly turning on in my head; out of nowhere, I would get this very loud chatter in my head, like the inside of a noisy restaurant. It didn’t sound like external noise, but it was much louder than a normal thought, so much so that I could sort of feel it in my ears, although it didn’t feel like I was hearing anything outside of myself.

There were voices in the chatter, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying, except for a few words here and there. The chatter didn’t sound negative nor did it appear to be directed at me. Sometimes it would have a musical quality to it, but always with chatter. These are more than intrusive thoughts – they’re so loud that I cannot “hear” my own thoughts over them!

This phenomenon terrifies me. I panic and have to turn on the TV or listen to the radio – external noise and stimulation seems to solve the problem. Over time, these nighttime voices lessened, and now I experience this once or twice a year. It happened a few days ago after nearly a year of nothing, and now I am thoroughly frightened that I’m slowly developing schizophrenia.

I don’t know if this is also a symptom of schizophrenia, or just anxiety, but sometimes when it’s dark or they’re in the corner of my eye, I’ll sort of be surprised by shadows or objects, thinking for a second that they’re people before realizing that it’s just a shadow/whatever. I’m not as concerned with this as I am with the internal hallucinations.

Thank you for your help!

Occasional Internal Auditory Hallucinations

Answered by on -

A.

It’s not uncommon for people with hypochondriasis and anxiety to believe they have schizophrenia. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions that I receive.

Diagnosing mental health disorders requires an in-person evaluation. Generally speaking, in the absence of any other symptoms, schizophrenia seems unlikely. Most people with schizophrenia don’t have occasional symptoms. Their symptoms tend to be frequent and debilitating. This doesn’t seem to be the case with you.

You might be describing hypnagogic hallucinations. Hypnagogic hallucinations are visual or auditory perceptions that occur while falling asleep. They are not typically associated with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders but rather sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Studies have also shown that hypnagogic hallucinations are common in people with insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, anxiety disorders, and depression.

I would recommend consulting a mental health professional and or your primary care physician. Also consider undergoing a sleep study. Treatment will depend upon the underlying cause but may include medication or psychotherapeutic interventions. I hope this helps. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Occasional Internal Auditory Hallucinations

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Occasional Internal Auditory Hallucinations. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/06/18/occasional-internal-auditory-hallucinations/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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