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Hallucinations experienced by more than one million people in England

Hallucinations are more common than previously thought, with more than one million people in England experiencing them, new research suggests. 

Hallucinations are more common than previously thought, with more than one million people in England experiencing them, new research suggests. 


Auditory hallucinations were also found to occur in people with depression, anxiety
and obsessive compulsive disorder. Picture: Alamy

Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland used the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire to assess for hallucinations in more than 7,000 people in England aged 16 and over. They found that 4% have experienced auditory and visual hallucinations, equating to 1.6 million of the population. 

Hallucinations have typically been associated with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, but the study showed they can occur across a much wider range of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. 

Range of illnesses

The study found that 14% of people with depression, 16% of people who have panic attacks and almost a quarter of people with agoraphobia can experience hallucinations. 

‘It’s important for people to realise that hallucinations are common in a whole range of illnesses, not just schizophrenia, and can, at times, even happen in people with no illness at all,’ said lead study author Dr Ian Kelleher. 


Ian Kelleher and Jordan E. DeVylder (2017) Hallucinations in borderline personality disorder and commonmental disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.116.185249

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