For a lot of people the distinction between hallucinations and delusions can be very confusing and scary. However, delusions and hallucinations are different, they are not to be used interchangeably. Hallucinations are characterized as false or distorted sensory experiences that appear to be veridical perceptions. Veridical perceptions are defined as those that are correct comprehension of what is authentic and real. These sensory impressions are generated by the mind rather than by any external stimuli, and may be seen, heard, felt, and even smelled or tasted. Sensory impressions involved in hallucinations have a “real base”, as the mind can create a “lifelike” experience leading the individual to believe he or she is really hearing, tasting, smelling, etc., what they are hearing, tasting, smelling, etc.

Unlike, hallucinations a delusion is a fixed false belief, often, used in everyday language to describe a belief that is either false, whimsical, or derived from deception. Delusions are typically false beliefs based on incorrect inference about external reality which is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.

Delusions are often associated with mental illness, specifically, mood and personality disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, delusional disorder, schizoaffective disorder, etc. Notably, persons struggling with delusional disorders may experience complex delusions which often fall into the following categories:

Delusion – Types:

  • Grandiose
  • Persecutory
  • Paranoid
  • Somatic
  • Mixed
  • Erotomanic
  • Religious
  • Delusion of reference
  • Somatic

Hallucinations are often influenced by increased stress, medication response, environmental or emotional influences, physical illness, extreme exhaustion, etc. Unlike delusions, hallucinations occur in the absence of stimuli, i.e., auditory, visual, tactile, etc. hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception. Hallucinations can be caused by the use of recreational drugs, stress, sleep deprivation, brain damage, medication interaction, alcohol withdrawal, etc.

Hallucinations – Types:

  • Visual
  • Tactile
  • Gustatory
  • Auditory
  • Olfactory

Both hallucinations and delusions can be very difficult to deal with as well as manage. However, as they typically have different symptoms and effects. Treatment also varies in the approached used for individuals suffering from delusions and persons struggling with hallucinations. Treatment for delusional disorder most often includes medication and psychotherapy. Delusional disorder can be very difficult to treat in part because sufferers often have poor insight and do not recognize that a psychiatric problem exists.

Persons experiencing hallucinations often treated for the condition(s) causing the hallucinations. Treatment options for hallucinations include the condition causing the disorder (seizures, tumors, macular degeneration, etc.) medication, and cognitive behavioral therapy.