06.06.2021 – 15:35
Symptoms of psychosis such as hallucinations and delusions often overlap. This means that it can be easy to mix them. Although both are symptoms of psychosis and are part of an altered reality, both symptoms have a big difference – one is sensory and the other is cognitive.
Knowing the difference between the two can help differentiate symptoms and treat them properly. In this article, we will compare hallucinations and illusions, including what causes them and how they are treated.
What is the difference between hallucinations and illusions?
Hallucinations and illusions are often grouped together when we talk about different diseases or conditions, but they are not the same. While both are part of a false reality, a hallucination is a sensory perception and an illusion is a false belief.
For example, hallucinations may involve looking at someone who is not there or hearing people talking when there is no one around.
Illusions, on the other hand, may involve someone who thinks they are famous when they are not, for example.
Sometimes illnesses or medical conditions can cause hallucinations and / or illusions, or even psychosis.
These diseases may include:
certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease
some forms of epilepsy
Knowing the underlying causes of hallucinations and / or delusions is important, as an accurate diagnosis will help guide treatment.
What are hallucinations?
Hallucinations are sensory experiences that one perceives as real when in fact they are not. They can be caused by medication, substance use or certain medical or mental health conditions.
Hallucinations can be visual, olfactory, taste, auditory or tactile. One might think they feel stings on their skin, hear someone talking to them, see something that is not there, or even smell something that is not present.
Medical conditions that can cause hallucinations may include:
use of substances
lack of sleep
deafness, blindness or vision problems
What are illusions?
Illusions are beliefs that are obviously false. They are symptoms of a thinking disorder.
Belief in an illusion does not count from cultural or religious background. They also have nothing to do with the intelligence of the person who trusts them. These beliefs are held even with evidence to the contrary and despite what almost everyone thinks.
Illusions can be almost anything, but common types include:
The illusion of persecution
Illusions of love
Illusions of greatness
Illusions of guilt or unworthiness
Conditions that may cause illusions may include:
affective psychosis, as in bipolar psychosis
How are hallucinations treated?
Treatment for hallucinations depends on what causes them. Medication may be used, along with counseling.
The specific medication to be prescribed depends on what the hallucinations are for. Counseling can help you understand what you are experiencing and work on developing coping strategies.
If the hallucinations are due to a medicine, the doctor may reduce the dose of that medicine or discontinue it.
How are illusions treated?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective way to treat delusions. CBT therapy is a process that involves building a relationship with a mental health professional, recognizing how illusions are affecting you, and implementing CBT strategies.
If delusions are part of psychosis, CBT is often used in conjunction with antipsychotic medications.