Anxiety or depression causing hallucinations?!

So I finally got in to see a psychologist( well she was a Psyc NP, but whatever) for some much-needed meds to help with depression. In the interest of being honest, I told her that I occasionally see small things, mostly cats and rabbits that I know are not there. I told her that I sometimes see bugs and ever so often see people I know are not real. I went on to explain that I often smell things that are not there or inappropriate for what is really there(from flowers to dirt to vomit) or I taste things that aren’t there (soap or pesticide are the most common) She seems to think the smell thing is related to my chronic ear infections and the rest is anxiety or depression related. I think that because I don’t ‘hear’ things that it wasn’t classic enough to fit in her mold. What are your thoughts? Have anyone similar symptoms or experiences?


Well it is possible to have hallucinations with anxiety and depression it’s not very common as far as I know but it is possible.

For this you may want to ask a physician’s opinion or perhaps an ENT would know more?

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Thank you for your prompt reply.:slight_smile: I do have a referral to ENT but it is months away, I am curious if they can add anything to the smell thing but I really don’t think they will.

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Well in the mean time you might want to try keeping some coffee beans on hand. I find it helps me when I am smelling something that’s not there. Or if I can’t get a bad smell out of my nose.

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It is actually more common than you would think for anxiety to cause hallucinations. Many folks here have anxiety-induced hallucinations instead of typical psychosis. It just means the medication you take might be slightly different.


What if I don’t have these thing happen when I’m anxious? hat if I am relaxed? Could it still be related?

It could still be related. That is for your doctor to figure out. We are just random strangers from the internet with no medical expertise or personal knowledge of your case. But yes, it is theoretically possible.

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Have you had a CAT scan to rule out some physical stuff?

I have not. I have a regular dr apt wednesday, i’ll ask then.

I get that we are al laymen here. In the words of said dr.(NP) she didn’t want to give me any labels of anything as she felt that was detrimental. She said it is her policy to be as vague with diagnosis as possible. That is more or less why I feel I need clarification. She started me on Abilify and not an anti-anxiety so that makes me question if she is being truthful ( I maybe should mention I see this person through the university I attend)

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If you don’t agree with or understand your treatment plan, you’re always allowed to ask her more questions. You’re also entitled to a second opinion if you can afford it.

Most doctors nowadays are trying to stay away from stigmatizing diagnoses. They are more likely to stay vague because damaging labels will follow you to future doctors and could make them less likely to trust your input. They could also affect your ability to get a job in the future. If an employer hears you have schizophrenia, they might find a reason to fire you. If they hear you have anxiety, it’s usually no big deal.


That is a very true post

Thank you, I think that is what I needed to hear. It makes sense in a university setting why they would be extra sensitive to my ability to work after I’m done with them. I see her for a medication follow up in about a week I will take your advise and ask for some clarification,but through your input understand why she may have went the way she did.

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Is your only diagnosis so far anxiety and depression?

Those terms are often used as a general diagnosis for newer patients by several people working in mental health. It is the terminology used till they get to know you,and your real illness, much better.

I do not think, from what i have experienced and read, that moderate a case of depression can cause hallucinations. I am diagnosed as MDD and had constant auditory hallucinations for years.

Many other illnesses may cause hallucinations too. My treatment only started a few months back.

Like yourself, my pschiatrist does not know much about me, only some notes from a therapist for 3 sessions is the most he could know. I only see the pschiatrist 10 minutes a month.Lol.

You could always ask the next time you go?

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I started seeking help because I had depression that was quite seasonal. I felt down in the winter but nearly manic in the summer. The depression part was old hat and I understand so much more about it. The summer mania was not something I was handling well. It sounds like bi-polar but it isn’t (according to my counselor whom I trust ). Due to large gaps in memory, she tentatively says I have DID. DID, in my mind would explain things if the hallucinations (of any sort) if they coordinated to trauma, they do not. smelling vanilla isn’t traumatic or tied to trauma nor is seeing shadow bunnies. I honestly am so confused about my own mental health, though I’m glad to finnaly have some supprt.

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If you have large gaps in memory, your counselor may give you (change) your diagnosis later(much later, as you mentioned, some disgression is required for you at this time.)

Also dont be surprized if ask about past head trauma or siezures. If your unaware, hallucinating smells is something seizure patients do too. They would just be making sure about the cause of your symptoms.

I am telling you this because some seizure patients may not ‘pass out’ , but look fine during their siezures. Others may look disoriented. But few are aware at the time it is happening. This makes them lose time also.

I would keep up with going there and see what happens. These things take time to get to the bottom of .

Last, I dont know much about the relation of DID to trauma. It is my personal opinion that some people just have MI, and there is no ryhime or reason as to ‘why me?’ Just the way the cards fell.

Me too. I smell or taste vomit a LOT, and when people are cooking I smell unpleasant smells like vomit, blood, feces, dirty animals etc. And when I smell bad things I get relaxed and I think it’s pleasant. I don’t know if that’s related :eyes: And I taste bitter things, like I bit down on my medication on accident while swallowing. If I think of a bad memory I will taste it and it will give me this weird nauseous head feeling in the back of my head. I see bugs or black dots moving, or more commonly small things on the ground moving or becoming alive. I see cats a lot (usually the black cat who haunts me). Most frightening is the shadow man in my house. If I don’t check objects at night when the lights are off he comes and watches me. I have to double check and turn on the lights to make sure it isn’t him. And I’ll see tall black figures, small black men with no face, etc. Basically my nightmares. But they don’t last for very long and are translucent.

You and I do have a lot in common, don’t we! I don’t always smell bad things but the bad things beyond vomit are what you listed. Most of my visual “things” are dark and translucent. When I do see bugs or people they tend to be more fully formed but odd enough to know they are not real(the people remind me of Gollum from Lord of the Rings). I’m not glad you are going through what you are…but I am glad to know there is someone out there that gets what it is like with these particular things!

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Same here! Most people on here seem to have solid hallucinations and don’t know what’s real or not, and that’s sometimes true for me, but I usually can tell when I’m hallucinating. I think what bothers me the most is not remembering where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m talking to etc.

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