Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices

Hearing voices, also known as auditory hallucinations, is a symptom experienced by some individuals with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. It involves perceiving sounds, voices, or noises that others do not hear. These voices can be distressing, commanding, or conversational in nature.

How can it affect you?

Hearing voices can impact various aspects of life:

  • Emotional Well-being: Voices can cause fear, anxiety, confusion, or distress. Individuals may feel isolated or stigmatised due to their experiences.
  • Social Functioning: Hearing voices can lead to social withdrawal, isolation, and difficulties maintaining relationships due to the stigma associated with mental illness.
  • Cognitive Functioning: Voices can interfere with concentration, attention, and memory, affecting daily functioning at work, school, or home.


  • Perceiving voices, sounds, or noises that others do not hear
  • Voices may be experienced as internal or external
  • Voices may have different characteristics, such as being commanding, critical, or conversational
  • Distress or impairment in daily functioning due to the voices

How can you manage hearing voices

Managing hearing voices involves a combination of approaches:

  • Medication: Antipsychotic medications prescribed by a psychiatrist can help reduce the frequency and intensity of hallucinations.
  • Therapy: Cognitive-behavioural therapy for psychosis (CBTp) and other forms of therapy can help individuals understand and cope with their experiences, challenge distressing beliefs about the voices, and learn coping strategies.
  • Self-Help Strategies: Techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and distraction techniques can help individuals manage distress when experiencing voices.
  • Social Support: Building a support network of friends, family, or support groups can provide understanding, encouragement, and practical assistance during difficult times.
  • Holistic Approaches: Engaging in activities that promote overall well-being, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and avoiding alcohol and drugs, can support mental health and reduce the impact of hearing voices.

Where to find help

Speak to your GP: Speak to your GP as soon as possible. They will be able to refer you to specialist services. 

Charities and organisations: Help is available from charities and organisations such as: The Hearing Voices Network, Intervoice online, Understanding Voices and the Voice Collective