Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
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June 6, 2022

Auditory Hallucinations and PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a severe form of anxiety resulting from exposure to a traumatic event. While you might primarily associate PTSD with military veterans who have served in combat, this condition can affect anyone who experiences or witnesses a troubling or frightening situation involving death or the threat of physical harm.

PTSD Characteristics

According to the DSM-5, to receive a PTSD diagnosis, you must struggle with the primary symptoms for at least one month after one-time or ongoing trauma. Some people can develop this disorder immediately following the triggering event, while others have late-onset PTSD that does not emerge until months or years later.

Prevailing PTSD symptoms include the following.

  • Intrusive, unpredictable flashbacks and disturbing nightmares about the event
  • Avoidance of people, situations and activities that remind you of your trauma
  • Hyperarousal, including startling easily, being restless, having difficulty concentrating or relaxing and feeling constantly alert and on edge
  • Exaggerated guilt, negativity and shame, feelings of detachment and trouble being happy
  • Difficulty talking about your emotions and memories
  • Withdrawing from social situations and relationships

PTSD and Psychotic Symptoms

Sometimes, PTSD may include symptoms of psychosis, like dissociation, paranoia and auditory hallucinations. In these cases, you may experience tinnitus – a constant ringing or buzzing in your ears – or hear voices when nobody is around. One peer-reviewed study concluded that auditory hallucinations were more likely to occur in women with severe PTSD, especially those who were younger when they had the traumatic experience.

Some flashbacks can be so intense that you relive the experience, including seeing, hearing, feeling or smelling things that aren’t there. Flashbacks that transport you back in time to the traumatic event might be more likely to occur when you are under a lot of stress, and can be highly upsetting and frightening.

Dissociation is when you briefly become detached from reality. When you are dissociating, your mind can go blank, erasing the memory of what you did or said during that period. The experience of dissociating is like having a daydream, but it’s much more unpleasant and disruptive.

How to Get Help for PTSD

PTSD can sharply divide your life into two chapters – “before” and “after.” When you have PTSD, you might wonder if you will ever feel like you did before your traumatic experience left its mark on you. PTSD frequently co-occurs with addiction, as people living with the symptoms of this disorder may seek temporary relief from their symptoms with drugs and alcohol. However, a growing dependence on these substances will only make your mental health worse as time goes on.

Mental illnesses and substance use disorders are treatable, but they require addressing both conditions simultaneously. If you’re living with a dual diagnosis, you can learn to overcome your challenges by working with a trained therapist in a judgment-free environment. At Beach House, we are here to help people recover from psychiatric disorders and addiction. Our staff members have years of specialized mental health training, ensuring each client receives the highest level of care for their co-occurring disorders. To verify your insurance and learn more about our unique treatment philosophy, please reach out to our admissions counselors today.