Q&A

Q: Can hallucinations occur as a symptom of PTSD?

A: Yes, hallucination can occur as a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)! For example, one documented case of such a situation was with a a client who had olfactory hallucinations; she would smell the body odor of the man who molested her as a child. When such hallucinations occur with PTSD, generally, the symptoms would be specific to (or related to) a traumatic event.

Such symptoms can be complex to diagnose, however, as many people who have psychotic disorders have also experienced trauma. Hence, a therapist needs to look for signs of a bonafide psychotic disorder (like schizophrenia), as this will help assess if a client is experiencing PTSD with hallucinations as a symptom, an unrelated psychotic disorder or maybe both.

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