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Am I hallucinating?

Q: I am a 26 years old female. I am a victim of hallucinations. I always feel as if something/somebody (unknown most of the time) is moving from the corner of my eye. I feel as if a rat is moving swiftly on the floor and when I look at the floor to confirm if it’s real or not, I don’t see anything. Also, I feel someone is staring inside the house from the window and when I look at it, there is no one. I also feel as if someone is peeping from the corner of the curtains or someone is standing behind me. All these things make me go crazy as it feels so real, especially at nights irrespective of me being alone or not. It’s worse when I am alone. What do I do? This problem is there since 3 years.

A:What you are describing may not necessarily go by the name of hallucinations, though we would be right in saying that there are perceptual anomalies. What it really implies is that either you could be having a strong imagination or misinterpret neutral objects and sensations. This can happen as in a person who is mildly scared walking along a lonely, dark street. He is already scared, and because of the lack of light cannot see clearly - now if this person sees even the shadow of a tree or any object could misconstrue it as that of a person who is following him or wanting to harm him. Like a rope lying on the ground in twilight can give the impression of a snake. These disturbances increase if one is anxious, tired, fatigued, has lack of sleep, in darkness, and if he/she has a vivid imagination or even after a scary movie. The trick is to notice how one feels if these factors have been controlled for and the treatment is entirely controlling the factors - like having bright light, having a good sleep, controlling anxiety and thinking neutrally, and avoiding late nights and preferably reading a book or listening to music during sleeping time. If it continues even after a few days of controlling for the above factors, I would suggest visiting a Psychiatrist.

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