- Hearing voices is how some people describe auditory hallucinations, i.e hearing things that aren’t really there.
- Hearing voices is a common symptom of mental illness, like schizophrenia.
- That doesn’t mean that everyone who hears voices is unwell.
- Hearing Voices can be scary and distressing but for some they may be comforting.
Hearing voices refers to an experience of hearing things that aren’t there. This may be the voice of someone you know, lots of background mumbling or a conversation between several voices. Really, it’s a different experience for everyone. Although it’s often linked with mental health issues, it can also happen to people who don’t have a mental health condition, such as people who;
- Have taken drugs or alcohol.
- Severe lack of sleep, dehydration or hunger.
- People with a high fever.
- Recently lost a loved one.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t include your ‘inner voice’, the difference is that you can identify that inner voice as your own, rather than a voice from something or somewhere else.
How does it feel to hear voices?
Hearing voices can be positive, negative or neutral. They may be critical of you, tell you to do things or give you compliments. This can obviously lead to a broad range of feelings such as;
- Confusion, nervousness and uncertainty.
- Questioning yourself and your experiences.
- Distress, distrust or paranoia.
- Low self-esteem and worthlessness.
- Annoying and distracting or overwhelming.
- Familiar or comforting.
- Feeling creative and exciting.
You can find more about hearing voices here. If you think you are experiencing hearing voices your GP can help.
Where can I find help?
- Talk to CALM from 5pm to midnight everyday. Our professional helpline workers are there to talk and to help you find ways to move forward. Calls and webchats are free, anonymous, non-judgemental and confidential.
- Outside of these hours, calls the Samaritans on 116 123
- Contact your GP for an appointment (which might be done over the phone or by video – during covid19)
- Self-refer yourself to NHS Psychological Therapies here
Talking about hearing voices
It can be difficult to talk about depression with your friends, family or a medical professional. Here’s some ways you can start a conversation around how you’re feeling:
“I need to talk to you about how I’m feeling. Things are tough, and I think I might be hearing voices. I don’t need you to find a solution, I just want to share how i feel”
“I need to talk – I’ve been hearing voices and I’m really struggling with it.”
“You might have noticed i’ve not been around so much lately. I’ve been finding things difficult, and think I might be hearing things that other people don’t.”
Worried about someone? Find information and advice for someone you care about here.