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How is hearing voices related to mental illness?

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Quick Answer

Hearing voices can be a symptom of various psychiatric disorders, though it can also indicate other medical conditions, such as brain tumors, epilepsy or stroke, explains HealthGrades. Hearing voices is symptomatic of mental illness in patients with bipolar, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders; schizophrenia; and psychotic depression.

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Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, can cause other false sensory perceptions, such as nonexistent odors, strange tastes in the mouth and the feeling of touch on the skin, according to WebMD. Sufferers may also possess other persistent delusions, such as sustained paranoia. Other symptoms of psychotic disorders are changes in speech patterns, confusion, a loss of interest in the person’s own hygiene and welfare, difficult performing at work or in school, and other unusual or dangerous changes in behavior. Treatment for psychotic disorders can include antipsychotic prescription medications and group or individual psychotherapy.

People who cannot discern between real and imagined voices should call 911 immediately, as it could be symptomatic of a life-threatening condition, states HealthGrades. Patients already receiving treatment for this symptom who begin to hear voices telling them to harm themselves or others should also seek emergency treatment. If symptoms under treatment otherwise persist or worsen, patients should seek urgent care.

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