Hallucinations and Delusions After a Brain Injury

Hallucinations and Delusions After a Brain Injury
Question: 

My brother was 19 when he suffered a TBI. He’s made a lot of progress in six years. My family’s main concern right now is that he’s been talking a lot about conversations and events that clearly could not have happened or taken place. He’s also been talking to himself and gesturing like someone is with him — only there is no one around. The doctor has said she’s seen some TBI patients go into their own little world like this.

Our family is obviously very worried and concerned. We don’t want this to set him back especially since he’s come so far. Is this something that can happen to people with TBI and what suggestions might you have for us to help him?

Answer: 

Psychiatric issues, including hallucinations and delusions, are certainly more common after traumatic brain injury. The risk for new onset of psychiatric illness after a brain injury goes on for a long time and can be seen with any severity of traumatic brain injury. If these problem are new for your brother, a careful medical evaluation by a physician who has experience in treating patients with TBI is warranted. So the healthcare professional should take a close look at all of your brother’s medications. Some medications can increase confusion or cause hallucination or delusions. Stimulant medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Amantadine all have this potential side effect. Evaluation should also be done to ensure these symptoms are not related to seizures.

Loneliness and social isolation can also be contributing factors and should be considered as well.

If no medical or social issue is found and these problems are not bothering him or putting him at risk, I would be cautious about using any psychiatrically active medication. Neuropsychologic and group treatments can be helpful. Neurolpsychologists will evaluation his mood, insight, and judgment to establish if these are true hallucinations or a way of entertaining himself. Couseling can be useful in improving mood. Group therapy would give him a social outlet and can improve insight by seeing others go through similar challeges. If these symptoms worsen and he became a danger to himself or others, medications can be considered. These should only be prescribed by a practioner who has experience in evaluating and treating.

 

Posted on BrainLine December 16, 2010. Reviewed July 26, 2018.

Comments (67)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

My brother fell 1800 feet from a hang glider 30 years ago and was in a coma for an extended time period. He is currently delusional about food topics, is somewhat anorexic and believes Covid 19 is not real. Some of this is a result of misinformation he read years ago that there are no "pathogens" and germ theory is incorrect. This places him at risk when he has a bacterial infection and needs meds. I am wondering how much of his delusional behavior could be a result of brain trauma and not conspiracy theories. He gets quite angry when challenged. I don't want to feed his delusions, but it doesnt seem to help to challenge him. He is pretty sure he alone knows everything about health and hygiene. And before the accident he was a liberal hippie. Now he is a right wing conservative.

My sister, who is 30, suffered an injury to the head in December 2019. Her vision became blurry and she was unable to focus on objects. She takes anxiety mEdication and also suffers from migraines and had to take a 3 month shot treatment. She also became very distant and anti-social. She recently started hearing voices in her head. What could be causing this?

My daughter aged 29 struggled with divorce of her parents and subsequent death of her mother 7 years ago. She is highly sensitive and suffered from anxiety and insomnia so was diagnosed Bipolar. She also suffered from an eating disorder that complicated matters. She abused Ritalin and finally in 2/2020 stopped breathing from overdosing on probably Zanex. She was not expected to live from her anoxic brain injury but did. She woke up finally and having brought her home to oversee recovery. She has done well and progressed nicely. Recently she became manic and started profusely journaling memories that previously were clouded in amnesia. After 3 sleepless nights, yesterday she wrote 4 hours straight about events and memories with particular focus on the "love of her life". She had been hearing his voice and he had proposed marriage, it was their wedding day, her sister was to do her hair and he was building a home on the coast for them to live in after the wedding. She has been 6 months off of all drugs, her eating disorder has resolved evidenced by 30 plus lbs., she is very focused on speech therapy and physical activities the promote healing and off all prescriptions for 6 months. This sudden change is alarming. Any suggestions?

With all due respect, is there a possibility she may have any access to drugs? I too, am trying to figure out what causes delusional behavior and certain other behaviors in someone I care about. Hoping MRI will shed some light. I hope it’s not the case but the one of the first questions asked. Good luck to you and your daughter.

I got an acquired brain injury when I was 18 months old. I still suffer from the accident. I have problems with memory, concentration I have depression, anxiety and dissociative identity disorder ( multiple personalities) I hear voices 24 hrs a day. I also hear people talking about me on the radio or TV. At times I think I am microchipped and are being followed. I wish life was different

If you dont mind me asking, how old are you now. I Also suffered a major accident when I was around 2 years old. I am now 50 years old, and I am experiencing the same issues that you described. They started at the age of 35, and they seem to get worse and more difficult to deal with every day as I age. I also wish that my life was different. Thank you for sharing. It makes it a little easier knowing that I am not alone when it comes to experiencing these issues.

Our daughter, who is now 36 and lives in a group home, was brain injured at birth with basically no right side and damage to the left and front. She has had her ups and downs, behaviors, episodes, you name it. A couple of days ago, she was screaming, tearing things up and staff stayed right with her. She apologized afterwards, and said a little man was on her shoulder. This is the first time she's said this. Hallucination? We have no idea.

Hi there I too suffered a minor brain Injury. Side effects were Refractory depression, anxiety, insomnia etc. No meds worked. I nearly killed myself but I found 2 treatments that have recovered a lot of my brain health, one is I use a home PEMF (pulsed magnetic fields device) on my head / body, to heal the brain / reduce inflamations. And also instead of ECT I use the Alpha Stim device - a more advanced version of CNS (Cranial nerve stimulation) That taps alpha waves into your ears to balance out severe depression and mood changes.

The results have been life changing. I would be happy to let you know some more, and best wishes to all :)

Hi i hope you receive this msg. My brother suffered a blow to the back of his head and had other trauma on top of it. Losing girlfriend, house burnt down and he turned to drugs to try deal with life. He now hears voices and really believes he has been microchip in his body and believes these voices which he can tell me whom they are, are controlling his everyday life and can feel see everything he does. I'm desperate to help him. He does nothing but eat and sleep now. Believes his everyday life is obstructed by the voices and he can not do anything because the voices do not stop. I have suggested frequency to lisen to frequency's to try over ride the voices and promote healing. He will not give it ago. So this device you are talking about? Do you think it could help with this kind of injury and trauma? Because I would like to get a natural healing for him. Thankyou for your time and awaiting your response.

I would like to hear more........please

Can you please tell me where I can get the home pemf and cns from? I have tried so many different medication for my husband and they don’t help. It’s been over three years. Thank you

I first started having hallucinations because of a brain cyst but after it ruptured and caused nerve damage that 2yrs later is still not healed. I see demons crawling on my skin and dust like things floating in the air and coming straight for me. I am a devote Christian and i believe God is in control and is working behind the scenes. It is scary from time to time but i believe God is bigger than this problem. Hang in there everyone!!

I got a brain injury in 2018
And I have been having this same problem I see dust like things and sometimes when my eyes are closed I see hands grabbing my soul it's freaky then 7 weeks ago I had a poltergeist run at my throat

Following a traffic accident - tremendous impact - I suffered hallucinations for days. Seeing insane images that appeared completely real. Some nice (Koala Bears, kittens)
some terrifying (Talking heads without bodies). Could go on and on, but won't.
I have tremors and confusion.
Five months after now, I still consider myself unable to function.

I have a tbi from 3years ago. Couldn't do my job. I quit my job. General math became very hard for me. Trying to put it together or away out. I also have 2brain anurisms before my accident. I try to not think about it I hope things turn out ok. Thanks for listening

I fainted outside and hit my head ever since then I've been visually and auditory hallucinating every min of the day sleep is impossible. I get tremors can't sit still. Tried ZZZquil and melatonin to 100mg seroquel
Drink a lot of Alcohol to help me pass out. I can't stop thinking about it its like OCD anxiety with Psychotic depression on roids. My doctor said its sounds like a severe concussion. Didn't get a Ct Scan Yet its been don't know why its been over a week and Ive been in the ER all I wanna do is sleep now I officially dubbed myself insane.

I've read about hallucinations occurring from TBI but I've never come across an occurrence, the hallucinations, the hallucinations of seeing dead bodies must have been frightening? When it was over did you know that you had a hallucination?

When I first woke up, I was not aware that I was in the hospital, and the only distinct thing I can remember is getting mad that they wouldn't let me use the toilet and I couldn't understand why. It might have been drug induced because I was getting Haldol, IV fentanyl & dilaudid. After 6 months of being home, I developed this grandiose sense of self and I was convinced that I was going to be famous. It's so weird that I had such high confidence, 6 years later and I feel ugly and it feels like the TBI ruined me. but as of Now I'm always paranoid and expecting the worst. My TBI was a intraventricular hemorrhage, brain swelling and edema. I hope that you're able to recover from the hallucinations eventually, seeing bodies would cause more PTSD then the car accident itelf.

I developed psychosis and delusions after I was hit by a car and the. Eventually I got admitted into a psych hospital and was put on lithium and latuda and then ECT I think the whole experience is Unfair and not clear at all. I’m not sure if the delusions were amphetamine induced or from the car accident or both

Did you find that the ECT was successful? We have a situation in our family where a relative had a brain bleed, and then has completely gone into psychosis with out rages delusions and severe depression now… We’re almost resorting to ECT now because we don’t know what else to do in medication isn’t helping.

My sister had a TBI and has experienced hallucinations and delusions ever since the accident. Typically, the diagnosis for her symptoms would be Schizophrenia, however, when caused by a TBI, isn’t the diagnosis different? Or more specific or have a secondary diagnosis of TBI?

Yes, I'm personally going through the same thing. Typically, hallucination and sort come back if you stop taking meds, which I'm on month 4. Plus, I never had any medical problems until after my car accident. It is very frustrating because help is so hard to find.

My best friend sustained multiple instances of head/brain trauma from childhood through adulthood. Possible shaken baby syndrome and brain tissue being jarred during multiple physical abuses during childhood through teenage years. I keep a straight face when talking to him or just in his/family members' presence.
 
I've been told to not laugh or make faces at him especially in the presence of others. He says he has seen me do so as others have done to him in the past. But I am always very conscious to not even crack a smile that could be mistaken as laughing at him.
 
Can this be the result of brain trauma or because he and his brother were raised with suspicion, fear and anxiety? And with knowing name calling and other mental, emotional abuses. Can he actually see, or think he sees something that I know isn't there in my presence, on my person?

Just let him know that you'll always be his bro regardless.
Best friends are a bond like family.
His family sounds like they abused him and they need mental help also.

What can you do if a person refuses to accept the voice he hears is not real. My son had head injuries 20 years ago (front temporal lobe damage) was in induced coma for 3 weeks. He has, for the lady few years, been accusing neighbours of shouting things at him (even "neighbours" who do not exist) Will not see doctor as all this is real !!!

I've had brain surgery was in a EXTREMELY abusive relationship ..was put on oxycodone to deal with aftermath I don't know myself if it's the brain surgery or oxycodone but whatever it is. Is so REAL ITS scary SOMTIMES .

Hang in there. We have to. God Will help you. He's helped many times. I'm living proof of that.i don't even remember my accident at all.

I've had the same thing happen to me. The people and conversations within were very realistic. I take abilify which just allows me to know what i hear isn't real. The voices and people really never went away.

What to do after having a concussion for 4 months and seeing things that are not there

I think were gonna be in the seams boat. Look up Post Concussion syndrome. It can take months up to a year my luv

I was involved in a auto accident about a year ago and have a TBI. I'm having Hallucinations, Ringing in my Ears, Head Aches, speach problems including stuttering! Some of my symptoms have gotten a little better. My Ears never stopped ringing and I'm still having Hallucinations! Do you know if and when these symptoms will go away?

I had a hard knock on the head, and for 3 days had hallucinations. then they went away. do I still need medical help? I feel fine now.

Hi I can completely understand unfortunately for us but am glad to know I’m not crazy and my loved one isn’t out to get me (maybe). I was in a car accident on September 9th 2019 and had a TBI plus an open head wound on forehead. My entire head and face bruised badly. At first I had virtigo non stop. Now I’m having hallucinations and hearing things. It’s VERY REAL TO ME. Everyone tells me I’m crazy it’s not real no one is there and no one said anything. I feel like I’m losing my mind and it’s causing me lots of problems. I’m scared to tell my neurologist but now after reading everyone’s story I feel safe to tell my doc and that I should. Thank you and God bless

I went through the same thing a year ago with all the same symptoms after a car accident. Got a coup-contrecoup brain injury and extensive bodily injuries inside and out. I also developed chronic migraines and persistent post-traumatic headaches for several months afterward. Several ruptured discs, sprains, strains, bruised liver and ribs. Right after the accident, I had trouble talking, like I was myself in my head, but just couldnt make the words come out, forgeting words, losing words. I remember the impact knocking the wind out of me, the feeling of mt brain hit the inside of my skull and what I can only describe as my soul being thrown out of my body as I watched myself from outside the car until I regained consciousness.

I had auditory issues, and
I recently learned that I have moderate hearing loss on my left side, the same side with the tinnitus. I had auditory hallucinations, and I still do except I have always known they weren't real, I maintained insight, but still scary. I still have trouble processing sound, but it was so bad that I couldn't interpret what I was hearing. My ears worked, but the sounds didn't make sense...I would lay down at night and then suddenly the room would sound like a crowded cafeteria of people talking. Everything got worse at night.

I had nightmares, sleep-paralysis
It started with insomnia where i woke up like clockwork every 2 hours for 2 months. Then it turned into near narcolepsy where I'd sleep for 16-20 hours per day and had sleep-attacks. I had bad hypnopompic and hypnogogic hallucinations to the point I would bolt out of the house in my underwear, running around the yard screaming for my son because I hallucinated that I heard him running toward the highway, calling my name.

The auditory issues affected everything, then i thought I could read people's minds and communicate telepathically via writing in a notebook. I filled several notebooks with that, as well as deeply philosophical and psychological ramblings. Some of them still kinda make sense, but woah. At the time I felt I was having a constant conversation with God and now I kinda miss that feeling. I always knew my thinking was bizarre, so I hid it, which tbh, was probably a smart move.

Ironically, stimulant medications helped me regain order and organization in my life and in my thoughts. I felt everything getting out of control, like i had so many thoughts and things to process that it was totally random. I would not have recovered with as much function as I did without the stimulants, which is odd considering I was definitely having psychotic drifts...

I also found that getting botox shots and spinal steroid shots helped immensely for pain, particularly the head and neck.

As of today, i continue to have auditory processing issues, hearing loss, tinnitus and auditory illusions. I am not lost inside of myself anymore, and no longer having unusual beliefs/delusions or hallucinating. I think some of the changes are permanent, i still have word-finding difficulties and speech hiccups that only I seem to really notice, but I think this is as good as it will get.

Hope that sharing my experience is helpful at all. Good luck.

I have had many of the same experiences that you have had. I suffered an accident that left me with a TBI, difficulty with speech, extreme virtigo, extreme depression, critical memory loss, and then around 7 months later I went into psychosis and started having constant audio hallucinations. They started as religious hallucinations but now may be about anything. I thought I was better for a while and only heard myself thinking but now hear several voices all the time. Since much of what is talked about to me references actual things in my life sometimes it is believable. I have tried latuda but had a very bad reaction and am now taking a low dose respiradone which doesn't seem to be helping. Can someone provide feedback on medications that actually work with fewest side effects?? I have been desperate to have someone to talk with that has actually experienced the same thing. I was and still am a very intelligent person but my life feels shattered. I am single and feel that no one will ever except me. Would appreciate a good person experiencing the same thing to talk with. The doctor's tell me I'm not schiprenic but that my audio cortex and frontal lobe was damaged.

I never really suffered with speech problems or studdering. Unless I was a little nervous about something like maybe public speaking. I noticed for a while after my concussion and later a 18 wheeler truck crashing into my rear end. I noticed that I was studdering and sometimes my speech would even slur. Your comment just helped me realize what was going on that it could've been related to TBI.

My girlfriend and I are about to celebrate our 8 yr anniversary, and 7 of those have been bliss. I live in a part of the country where violence on some level is an everyday occurrence, and it touches all who live here. My girlfriend is no exception. She has been in a couple of bad relationships where she was often abused and one ex made it a point to target her head when angry. On top of that, she's been in numerous car wrecks where she was concussed but sought no treatment. About two years ago she was attacked by a woman who hit her in the head with a rock as well.

A year ago her personality changed and she started hearing voices, has mild headaches for days and just isn't the same. I'm extremely worried about her and I don't know what to do! She refuses to see a doctor bc she is afraid she will be labeled as crazy.

Is it possible these numerous head injuries caused this? What can I do to help her? I'm getting desperate and I know she can't continue like this.

Severe brain injury at 17 and bipolar after for 38 years. Can antidepressants make hallucinations and untrust so bad that there is no help?

Fourteen years ago my son had a brain injury as a result of aspiration. He had total system shut down and developed acute respiratory distress syndrome. Over the last two years he has developed psychosis. He has been put on several medication and been hospitalized. Now it gotten to the point where is difficult for him to be in the community. He hears voices. I don't know what to do to help him. I have been told his hallucinations are organic. I am look for help and answers.

3 years ago I fell about 10 feet while spray washing the gutters. I landed cupped inside the ladder with my neck supported. By the ladder and my legs draped over the other side. I broke my left distal radius. At the hospital, I was asked how far I fell , my reply was 3 feet. I've had hallucinations of all sorts. Paranoid, and delusional behavior. Recently, I developed numbness in my 4th and 5th digits left hand, Palmer side. Some burning type neck pain when putting head chin to chest. I saw my PCD AND HE ORDERED an MRI of cspine. This showed foraminal stenosis and DJD.He referred me to Neuro. I spent an hour with the NP and 1 minute with the neurosurgeon. The focus was on the numb fingers. No questions about the fall, hallucinations. Last year, I had. 3 lumbar punctures which did alleviate the hallucinations. I don't know what to do to get through to these guys.

Yes, I had a lumbar puncture, and my symptoms (depression, anxiety, hallucinations, numbness, and issues with walking/gait) all went away for about 8 months. I felt so much better. I think that sometimes there are spinal leaks that they don't see or care about, since its not life threatening. I would love to get another puncture with how I have been feeling lately, but... they don't just do that to relieve pressure unless you have a specific neuro condition that calls for it.

I’m sorry to hear this happened. The good thing here is you have insight into contributing factors. I’d try seeing a doctor who specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, “PM & R”, and then get a neuropsychological evaluation.

My Boyfriend was hit off his motorcycle 5 months ago and have a tbi, Is it normal for him to Hallucinate?

People with brain injuries, look for neurofeedback psychologists! As well as ptsd therapists and people who treat brain injury. A lot of neuropsychologists are skilled in this and can help sort out what’s really going on. NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST! Psychiatrists don’t know very much about this stuff. They just look at symptoms of behavior rather than cognition. Craniosacral therapy or a good osteopath can help as well. It’s like your brain is hurt and upset and needs calming and correcting. Blood, fluid, brain waves all get messed up. Accupucnture can also really help. Look for community accupuncture if you’re money is tight. Research institutions should have services at reduced fees.

I was abused when I was a child and had a moderate TBI and numerous little TBIs growing up. I went to school after school and was further abused. I ended up getting put on meds and succeeding in a SpEd school and actually graduated valedictorian.

When I was an adult, my family and I moved to a different state where they had a meth problem, so a psychiatrist "reevaluated" me and switched ALL my meds. I ended up doing meth myself and dropping out of college. I was a first-year junior. A bunch of crap went on since then, more mild, moderate AND severe TBIs occurred, and after my accident in 2016, my health insurance REFUSED to pay for a Neuropsych. Now, I am stuck in a town where I can't seem to get help. I only find solace when I stay in my happy place and the world just seems to keep dumping on me. I don't get it. What did I do? I am kind and quiet (well, most of the time... I like to rock out to my music!) and just keep getting turned down for help. I had a thought after my accident in 2016 that I was in hell. Am I? Somebody, PLEASE help me. I am 35 and have a lot of life to live and love to give. I want to be a SpEd teacher. I am religiously confused due to a childhood incident and need some help! I DON'T WANNA DIE!!!

I’m so sorry
My mom has to go to PA from GA to get my 44 year old tbi, accident 24 ear ago. Very sad

Hang in There! I don’t have the answers but I’ve heard a saying god won’t waste your pain.

I suffered a TBI in 2015, while working FT, and caring for my terminally ill Dad who raised me. I was forced to resign and started the painful SS Disability process. I also got on to ACCESS for healthcare. There was a program I qualified for under ACCESS-UNDER MERCYCARE. I received a TBI counselor/therapist, and later an advocate of sorts. I recommend trying to get some state help. Even if you work, or pt, perhaps you qualify?! It's worth a shot! I had NO idea there was help for us! I just got my disability, and even though I have ACCESS for secondary insurance, that program is not available for me anymore, unless I change my plan. It's a juggling act, but I've been where your mind is. Through MY CHOICE of faith, walking all through the nightmare, I'm doing better. I can laugh, don't have to fake it anymore. That's a relief in its self! Please get some help, and show off your wonderful self again! Don't ever give up. Meditate, breath, journal, pray-( a personal choice), just putting it out there! Tell yourself you are so very worthy of help! Good luck...I truly mean this! From my heart...GET SOME HELP

Hi I would contact your congressman or women in your area ,they were surpose to help more with these problems an help with councilors.My son does in maine but biggest problem is they are overwhelmed with patients ,an can't get enough help because their budgets they say an funding low.If more in need contact their councilman or women then maybe more can be done . My son has this from doing the right thing as young man an walk home from a party an chose not to drive an was stopped an beaten with a night stick several times over the head.now here's voices an has been through a lot seems they just keep trying different meds an some make it worse then again they start with high doses ,to him he cut in quarters took less an seem to work better for him,does hear like audio an voices , seems to feel better when he talks with counciler. I think he would be better if they had a group where they could talk with other with same type of problems an all help each other an feel more worthy of one another an not feel alone I know I would love to have him find a group he could join an not be alone , have others to talk to better to even feel you have a friend even to talk to.Needs to be brought to the attention of congress people out their that need an outlet an not just keep feeding meds .An get some understanding of the causes.God Bless takecare of yourself an let them know you need help an understanding not just the meds some times its just needing to have others to talk to.

Yes! Love the guidance in your post. So good to: document, research, ask questions and journal like crazy! To add to that I want you guys to know you have a voice!! A lot of these doctors will minimize your symptoms, or treat you as though you aren’t worth their time. At that point you need to get very loud about your needs. By that I mean stay persistent and verbal {respectfully} with your physical/mental health challenges. A lot of us with TBI and PTSD and other disorders related to head trauma tend to isolate because so many of these doctors are telling us there’s nothing wrong or “you’ll be fine in a few months hang in there” so we often give up. Possibly start creating negative beliefs that the doctors know what’s best and I must be crazy. Those are false beliefs! Find a doctor you deserve. Doctors, specialists, and the like are there to offer help, healing, guidance, education and validation. If you do not have a professional in your life caring for your needs that offer positive hope and solutions then I think it’s best you be referred somewhere else for a second opinion. Do not stop seeking help. If you know there is something off with your body, then you are the best judge of that, Stay vigilant. Go to a specialist- ask to be referred. Often specialists only see patients who are referred by their primary physician. Also, your insurance may require a pre-authorization. Research your area to get to know your rights and responsibilities as a patient.Stay at it~stay strong~ stay positive. And remember you will have good days and you will have bad days. Try to enjoy the good days and be proactive on the days that are not so good- Taking breaks more often, drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, meditate- do what works for you and do not stop taking any medications that your doctor has prescribed even if you start feeling better. Always always always talk with your doctor before you make any changes. Good luck everyone! God Bless

It’s been a month since your post have you been able to get one help?

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