Hearing Things
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Reviewed By:

Weston S. Ferrer, MD

Weston S. Ferrer, MD (Psychiatry)

Weston Ferrer is a physician leader, psychiatrist, and clinical informaticist based in San Francisco. With nearly a decade of experience in academia and more recent immersion in industry, he has made significant contributions to the fields of digital health, health tech, and healthcare innovation. | As an Associate Professor at UCSF, Weston was involved in teaching, leadership, and clinical practice, focusing on the intersection of technology and mental health. He recently led mental health clinical for Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences), where he applied his expertise to develop innovative solutions for mental healthcare using the tools of AI/ML, digital therapeutics, clinical analytics, and more.. | Weston is known for his unique ability to innovate and support product development while bringing pragmatism to technology entrepreneurship. He is a strong advocate for patient-centered care and is committed to leveraging technology to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. |

Yu Shirai, MD

Yu Shirai, MD (Psychiatry)

Dr. Shirai works at the Yotsuya Yui Clinic for mental health treatment for English and Portuguese-speaking patients. He treats a wide range of patients from neurodevelopmental disorders to dementia in children and participates in knowledge sharing through the Diversity Clinic.

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Content updated on Nov 7, 2023

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  • Hear the honking of a car even though there isn't anything there

  • Voices seem very real even though there is no one there

  • Hearing voices or noises from nowhere

  • Hearing melodies playing in my head that sounds real to me

  • There is a voice describing my actions as I do them

  • Auditory hallucination

  • Hearing noises even though there isn't anything there

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About the Symptom

Hearing voices is sometimes called an ‘auditory hallucination’. The voices can vary in how often you hear them, what they sound like, what they say, and whether they’re familiar or unfamiliar. While hearing voices might be a sign of mental illness, not everyone who hears voices is suffering from one. Hearing voices is a fairly typical occurrence: one out of every ten people will do it at some time in their lives.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Hearing things

Possible causes

Generally, Hearing things can be related to:

  • Schizophrenia

    A psychotic disorder characterized by disturbances in thinking (cognition), emotional responsiveness, and behavior, with an age of onset typically between the late teens and mid-30s. Hearing voices and/or believing things that aren't consistent with reality are common symptoms. The exact cause is unknown, but a mix of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors are likely responsible.

  • Depression

    Depression is a mental illness that leads to low mood, reduced energy levels, and changes in sleep. This affects everyday activities like attending school and work. As the condition worsens, patients might have suicidal thoughts. Although stress and past trauma can cause depression, it can take time to identify and address causes, and genetic factors may also be at play.

  • Dissociative disorder

    Dissociative disorder is a mental disorder that involves experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions, and identity. People with dissociative disorder escape reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy, causing problems with functioning in everyday life.

  • Adjustment disorder
  • Herpes Simplex Encephalitis (HSE)

Doctor's Diagnostic Questions

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom:

  • Do you hear sounds or voices from unknown sources?

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Find Similar Symptoms

Similar symptoms or complaints

References

  • American Psychological Association - Auditory Hallucinations

    https://dictionary.apa.org/auditory-hallucination

Reviewed By:

Weston S. Ferrer, MD

Weston S. Ferrer, MD (Psychiatry)

Weston Ferrer is a physician leader, psychiatrist, and clinical informaticist based in San Francisco. With nearly a decade of experience in academia and more recent immersion in industry, he has made significant contributions to the fields of digital health, health tech, and healthcare innovation. | As an Associate Professor at UCSF, Weston was involved in teaching, leadership, and clinical practice, focusing on the intersection of technology and mental health. He recently led mental health clinical for Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences), where he applied his expertise to develop innovative solutions for mental healthcare using the tools of AI/ML, digital therapeutics, clinical analytics, and more.. | Weston is known for his unique ability to innovate and support product development while bringing pragmatism to technology entrepreneurship. He is a strong advocate for patient-centered care and is committed to leveraging technology to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. |

Yu Shirai, MD

Yu Shirai, MD (Psychiatry)

Dr. Shirai works at the Yotsuya Yui Clinic for mental health treatment for English and Portuguese-speaking patients. He treats a wide range of patients from neurodevelopmental disorders to dementia in children and participates in knowledge sharing through the Diversity Clinic.

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