Hearing voices in your head is not that unusual—many people hear voices and think nothing of it. But if the voices inside your head are disturbing, or they are telling you to do things that go against what you believe in, you may be suffering from a form of schizophrenia referred to as paranoid schizophrenia. There are several different types of schizophrenia, but hearing voices in schizophrenia is associated with the main sub-type—paranoid schizophrenia.
How can I tell if the voices in my head are caused by schizophrenia?
Ever had the experience of listening to a catchy song on the radio and then hearing the words resounding inside your head for the next ten hours? This happens to all of us at one time or another, but although it can be annoying it does not necessarily mean we are suffering from schizophrenia.
Hearing voices in schizophrenia is different. The voices associated with schizophrenia may talk to you or order you to do things. The voices may even have a conversation about you or with you. The voices might appear to be inside your head or they might emanate from somewhere nearby, for example the television or some other inanimate object. These voices are more disturbing because they impact on everyday life—the person may feel as if they cannot tell their nearest and dearest about their experiences, particularly if the voices are suggesting those around them are plotting against them in some way.
Why do some people with schizophrenia hear voices?
Hearing voices and experiencing strange sights, sounds, and smells that are not real are considered to be “positive” symptoms of schizophrenia: delusions and hallucinations are the main symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. Hearing voices in schizophrenia is not necessarily a problem for the patient as long as they are able to stay in control, but if the voices become abusive or controlling, the patient will need professional help to bring their symptoms under control.
Although hearing voices can sometimes be viewed as a positive experience, especially if the voices are offering uplifting advice or praising your achievements, it is much more likely that hearing voices in schizophrenia can be traced back to some kind of traumatic experience, for example childhood abuse, or triggered by an abusive relationship as an adult.
The voices may belittle the person and pick away at their self esteem. The person hearing the voices is often frightened and as time passes their delusions and hallucinations get worse, until eventually they and their family are unable to cope with the symptoms of the illness and seek professional help.
Can treatment for schizophrenia help control the voices inside my head?
Paranoid schizophrenia is very treatable illness, and although the person will never be “cured”, with professional help their symptoms can be brought under control and they should be able to live a happy and productive life. Cognitive behavioural therapy is often very helpful in treating paranoid schizophrenia as it can help the patient control anxiety associated with their symptoms. Medication can also be very effective at reducing the symptoms associated with paranoid schizophrenia.