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Hearing Things?

Question:

I have been having terrible insomnia for the past few weeks. I can’t sleep at night and often go days without sleeping. No medications seem to be working for me. I am starting to hear things, yet, in the past I have not tested positive for Schizophrenia. I have also been having mild hallucinations, which I’m afraid will only get worse. I feel like I am starting to lose a grip on reality. The only times I can sleep I wake up plastered with sweat and panic is racing through my mind until I can get a grasp of things and tell myself it was all a dream. The other day I was pacing for over an hour. I’m shaky and nervous all the time, jumping at shadows and even the slightest sounds. I don’t know what to do, there is a therapist appointment set up for me only two days from now, but I don’t know if I can wait that long. I feel as if I could snap at any minute. I’m desperate for help, can you please give any advice? Thank you.

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  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

Given the fact that you are feeling frighened about losing your grip on reality it would be a good idea to either go to the emergency of the nearest hospital or call 911 so that they can send help. They could take you to the emergency room.

Of course, there is no way that I could possibly offer any kind of diagnosis over the Internet. In addition, you have offered very little information. However, I can suggest some possible problems that may be causing your problems.

1. You could be suffering from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you are a recent war veteran or have been through something extremely life threatening, it could explain the onset of symptoms.

2. It is always a good idea to have a complete physical examination. It is always possible that a physical condition contributes to what seem like psychiatric problems. High blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and other problems have been implicated in contributing to changes in the brain. Get a physical check up.

3. Schizophrenia is not the only psychiatric condition that can lead to hallucinations. For example, this can happen with anything from Major Depression to Bipolar Disorder and the abuse of certain illicit drugs. I am not in anyway implying that you are using drugs. I do not know you. Therefore, just be aware of this.

There are always other possibilities.

Go to the hospital emergency room and get yourself checked out. You are feeling an enormous amount of panic and this could relieve that for you. Also, get that physical exam with your physician.

Best of Luck

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Comments
  • Kathryn

    One other thing - going without sleep or very little sleep can contribute to hallucinations. Studies of sleep deprivation have shown that after two weeks of severely restricted sleep or no sleep, subjects began having psychotic delusions and hallucinations which resolved after the subjects were allowed to sleep.

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