Hi. My 17 yr old has been depressed for about a year. Then about 6 months ago he began to tell me he was having visions and hearing voices. The voices were very violent and were telling him to kill himself or us, his family members. He would have visual hallucinations of blood everywhere, dead people, even saw me and the other family members dead.
We do not have a diagnosis yet of anything other than MDD which is what was given during his hospitalization. We are currently in a intensive group therapy with a top children’s hospital here. He is on antidepressants and antipsychotic.
I was wondering if others children were hallucinating in color? Did the hallucination just stop or how did it end? We’re they all day or only at night?
Any information you all can give me I would greatly appreciate.
Visual hallucinations are rarer than audio ones. I’ve only once had a vague visual hallucination of an indigenous American looming over me in bed. I attributed no specific meaning to it. Most accounts of visual hallucinations I’ve heard refer to “shadow people” cloaked darkness on the periphery which move away when you try to look at them. I met one guy in the mental hospital who talked about a vision of “The trinity snake”. We didn’t catch his name when we heard his story, so we started calling him Trinity.
I’m not sure why it would matter whether hallucinations were in color or not, but in my experience, I don’t believe my hallucination was in black and white, but the colors were muted. In my experience, when you meet people with SZ you first notice delusions and thought disorders and postural and movement disorders, you occasionally may suspect they may be “hearing voices”, and very rarely will they tell you of visions. I’ve never suspected any diagnosed people experiencing visual hallucinations in my presence. My estimation is taking hallucinogens is a much more reliable way of experiencing visual hallucinations.
For me, hallucinations are intermittent and tend to be associated with locations, environments, and stressful settings. They’re a little like dreams in that you don’t have them all the time, and they seem to be reactive to things that are on your mind or recent stimulus or background sounds. For example incorporating things you hear into a dream while you are sleeping.
Edit: per the timing of hallucinations, I don’t know any particular pattern of time of day other than they tend to intensify when you are sleep deprived and can’t sleep.
Wow. Thank you so much for your personal experience and knowledge. My son was hearing two distinct voices all day/night but the visual ones were always at night. (I think). I suffer from sleep paralysis with night terrors so I am away of the shadow figures in the room. (That’s terrifying in and of itself).
For my son , his visual ones were repetitive, almost always the same, until he began seeing a live human, looking similar as him and he claims to have sat and had a conversation with him like any normal conversation would go.
I think I’m just curious what others experience in regards to hallucinations. Thankfully, as of now my son has never really had any delusions, so I am not sure he would receive a SZ diagnosis.
When his hallucinations began, he was severely depressed, suicidal, and running on almost NO sleep. All of which our doctors have said could be root cause. However, for the most part he has almost no emotion, no sympathy, no empathy, doesn’t really like people, does not like to be touched, and is quite judgmental. I am not really sure where diagnosis is going to go but I just want to learn as much as I can about auditory and visual hallucinations.
Would it be common for someone with visual hallucination to hallucinate the same thing over and over? And lastly, if someone is already on a antipsychotic medication and hallucinations have stopped for two months, would it be likely for them to come back?
It all depends on the success of the medication and dosage for your son. No two people are alike. Anti-psychotics reach full efficacy at differing lengths of time (you can search for that info on the drug manufacturer’s site for that drug). Sometimes meds need to be increased; sometimes they stop working; sometimes they need to be changed or other meds added. Keeping a diary can help to gain a picture over time as to symptoms that are decreasing (or increasing) and side effects that might be present.
Thank you so very much for your information. My son is on the same antipsychotic. I am hopeful that this last one he had was just a one off, because the last two nights he was free of hallucinations. Unfortunately my son has become used to the disturbing visual hallucinations. He says they don’t bother him in terms of scaring him anymore. This last one scared him only because he thought the hallucinations were coming back.
Thank you so much for the help and support. It is deeply appreciated
I have known of persons, even unmedicated, who are able to “manage” their voices (or hallucinations?) somewhat. The voices can be bothersome, but the person is able to function. Even on meds, sometimes people still have to deal with the symptoms if they do not completely go away. (But I would question the meds or dosage if that was the case.) CBT is a (counseling) therapy that can help a person recognize what is real and what is not and how to manage the things in the mind that are not real.
@Shannon I believe my son also got used to his hallucinations for a couple of years because he didn’t talk about them very much and only after he was done with them did he talk more.
It must be very strange. I think people are very adaptable and, well, if hallucinations are part of your life then that’s what you adapt to.
One of the later hallucinations was that of giant Cheshire Cats staring at him through the skylight in our living room projecting lasers out of their eyes. Hallucinations like this is what may have finally did it for him in terms of him looking at medications as being necessary. Also, the voices were urging self-harm non-stop. That’s something I also think you can’t adapt to.
Maybe that’s it, when the hallucinations get so bad that you can’t adapt to them you start looking at meds as being the solution.
I remember in the movie, A Beautiful Mind, Nash was having hallucinations all over the place, but they could generally be integrated into his life. He didn’t see them as being highly disturbing, at least that’s how I remember the movie.
Jung experienced recurring abstract patterns himself similar to Mandalas. He wrote about a patient who experienced a recurring vision of the sun and discs which the patient believed was a phallus. People who I’ve met and those who write about “shadow people” visions say they reoccur, but vary somewhat.
My experience with delusions (dealing with my brother’s and my own) and “voices” is they manifest as theme and variation. With thought disorders, delusions and hallucinations my psychologist was mostly interested in variations, she considered them “diagnostic” meaning something could be learned from them. As a caregiver my brother can be very repetitive with his delusional stories, so I tend to let him talk and listen and only get alarmed or hopeful when the stories shift. In my experience, repetitive delusions and voices meant I was dead-ending and not making progress with therapy. I’m not sure how or if this translates for someone with visual hallucinations.
I’ll qualify my comments before about the hegemony of symptoms observed in others. First, postural and movement disorders can be readily observed if you know what to look for. Delusions and thought disorders can be inferred from from talking to the person, but observations of audio and visual hallucinations come mostly from self reporting. Sure, some DXed people indulge in talking back to their “voices” from time to time (myself included), but the main observable sign that someone is hallucinating short of self-reporting is distraction or staring off into space, which is hardly a surety.
Given anasognosia (lack of insight into disease) and powerful social stigmas against admitting hallucinations to yourself and others, people with mental illnesses likely significantly under-report hallucinations. I know I learned pretty quickly that certain experiences I was unsure about should only be discussed with people I trusted or not at all.
In my experience antipsychotics are not perfect and while hallucinations may diminish, and coping mechanisms improve, symptoms tend to fade to a manageable level first and may intensify or reoccur at times of stress. In many ways this is preferable to symptoms disappearing completely, because it’s tempting to discontinue medications under the logic they are no longer needed.
In my case, when symptoms return they are usually similar to previous ones in theme and content. It’s similar to screenwriters’ saying their sequels “rhyme” rather than repeat themselves. I’ll add that I am a highly auditory oriented person and tend toward paranoia when experiencing symptoms. People who are more visual and sensation oriented rather than intuitive, will have different experiences.
Care should be taken not to take most movie and other media representations of SMI symptoms literally. Movies are a visual medium, and stylistic choices are made to represent the ‘feel’ of hallucinations and delusions to make them accessible to the theater public. As I recall, the meticulously researched biography has only passing resemblance to the script for the movie and many liberties were taken. There was no Karcher or Charles hallucinations (characters) in the book to my knowledge. These were amalgams and plot devices similar to the visual representation of the blond in the bar scene representation of the Nash equilibrium premise.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the movie, as these depictions conveyed the feeling of hallucinations and delusions to people who had never experienced them very well, yet they misrepresent the mechanics of these experiences in my opinion. I remember my mother coming to me after seeing the movie expressing shock at learning Charles and his niece weren’t real as a second reveal after Karcher was earlier revealed by over-to-top fanciful and surreal events. I was puzzled how she could have lived through a year of me being florid without picking up on how real hallucinations and delusions seemed to me without such an explicit graphic (yet in my opinion, inaccurate) portrayal. It’s a tough thing to explain in words, as internal thought processes defy simple explanations, so visual representations are most common. Shutter Island has similar portrayals that I find problematic as well, but I admire the attempts of these movies to make these feelings accessible to others while “lying to tell the truth.”
Love and Mercy, the story of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys experiences with SZ/SZA, gets my endorsement as the closest representation of my range of symptoms at least.
My son has had visual hallucinations in the past, various visions. One ge believed was the devil he described as being 7ft tall. He also described what he believed was the devil laying on top of him, and the feeling he couldn’t breath. This always happened at night, I had no idea what caused this, so I started looking into it. These hallucinations are caused by hypnogogic hallucinations. It’s obviously stress and anxiety related. What causes it is, usually when we dream it takes 1.5 hours before we reach what I call dream sleep, thats the norm. With these hallucinations dream sleep triggers too soon, in between drifting off to sleep and being awake. We have probably all had an experience of this at some point… some recognise as sleep paralysis. It seems very real at the time it happens, and very frightening! What I did seemed to help my son, I put a low wattage light bulb in the lamp which gave light but was dim. These days you can buy night lights similar to child night lights which would be better. What I have also found helpful with my son, was acknowledging the experience as real and explaining what the cause is. There is also an explanation for voices. I have had 26 yrs experience with this now so have learnt a lot along the way. Yes these people have mental illnesses, what they experience are symptoms they react to. The child/adult you know is still in there, talk to the person you know not the symptoms, it’s easy to react to the symptoms they are scary both to you and your relative xx