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Hallucinations and delusions in Parkinson's

Christopher Hill - Shadows - Mervyn Peake Awards entry

Some people with Parkinson's may experience hallucinations or delusions. This means that they may see, hear, smell or taste things that aren't there, or have thoughts and beliefs that aren't based on reality.

We’ve discovered that if mum is constipated, has a cold or another mild illness, her hallucinations get worse. This has helped us to gain more control over her hallucinations.

Eve, whose Mum has Parkinson's

Hallucinations and delusions are more common in people who have had Parkinson's for a long time, though they can affect both younger and older people.

These symptoms may be caused partly by Parkinson's and partly by some Parkinson's medication.

You should not stop taking Parkinson's medication without the guidance of an expert.

If you are experiencing hallucinations, see your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse.

How can hallucinations and delusions affect people?

There are different types of hallucinations. These include:

  • seeing things (visual hallucinations)
  • hearing things (auditory hallucinations)
  • sensing things that aren't there (tactile hallucinations)
  • seeing illusions (seeing things differently than they are in real life)

Delusions can include:

  • paranoia (believing someone is planning to harm you)
  • jealousy (thinking people you love are betraying you)
  • extravagance (believing you have special powers)

Some people will be aware they are hallucinating or having delusions. Other people may not. This can be quite frightening but there are things that can be done.

What helps with hallucinations and delusions?

Talking to your family will help them understand how you are feeling. If you have carers at home, tell them about your hallucinations or delusions so they can support you.

What treatment is available?

Discuss your hallucinations or delusions with your specialist or Parkinson's nurse. They can rule out any other causes and make adjustments to your medication, which may help.

Your specialist may also be able to prescribe medication that can stop hallucinations or delusions from happening.

For some people, this will not offer a solution, but you may be able to find ways of coping with hallucinations or delusions.

Header image: Christopher Hill – Shadows
People’s Choice shortlisted entry for the Mervyn Peake Awards