Hallucinations and delusions are common occurrence in people than previously assumed, says a new research. Hearing voices and seeing things others cannot impact about five percent of the general population at some point in their lives.
"We used to think that only people with psychosis heard voices or had delusions, but now we know that otherwise healthy, high-functioning people also report these experiences," said professor John McGrath from the University of Queensland, Australia. "Of those who have these experiences, a third only have them once and another third only have two-to-five episodes across their life. These people seem to function reasonably well," McGrath said.
The study was done on over 31,000 people from 19 countries.
"These people were representative of the general population, not seeking mental health assistance," McGrath said.
Auditory hallucinations are more common in women than men, and they are also more common in people from wealthier countries. The findings could help generate new research into the causes of these isolated symptoms.
"We need to rethink the link between hearing voices and mental health - it's more subtle than previously thought," McGrath said. "People should be reassured that there isn't anything necessarily wrong with them if it happens once or twice, but if people are having regular experiences, we recommend that they seek help," McGrath added.
The study appeared in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.