Parkinson's Hallucinations: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that primarily affects older people. The main markers of Parkinson’s disease are a decline in motor and coordination skills. Common symptoms of the condition include muscle stiffness, tremors, loss of balance and coordination, and slow movements.

However, in some cases, Parkinson’s disease may also cause a person to develop hallucinations. These hallucinations can affect any of their five senses and can be debilitating in severe cases.

Visual hallucinations are the most common type a person with Parkinson’s can develop. Some research reveals that up to 75% of people with Parkinson’s disease may develop visual hallucinations as the disorder progresses.

Visual hallucinations can be common with Parkinson’s disease. Still, it’s not a typical symptom of Parkinson's disease. 

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Hallucinations 

A hallucination is anything you perceive with your five senses that aren’t real. A hallucination can affect how you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel things.

For instance, a person with visual hallucinations will likely see things that aren’t there. A person with Parkinson’s may experience hallucinations on a scale ranging from slight to severe. Signs of hallucinations include 

  • Visual hallucinations: Here, a person sees things that are not there. These are the most commonly experienced hallucinations by people with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Auditory hallucinations: This causes a person to hear things that don’t exist. For instance, they may think someone is speaking to them while there’s no one there.
  • Olfactory hallucinations: These affect a person’s sense of smell. They’ll often either catch whiffs or strong throws of smells that aren’t present in their current environment. 

Identifying Parkinson’s Hallucinations  

While hallucinations can often be expected with Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s disease isn’t typically at the top of the mind when diagnosing a person with hallucinations. Conditions like schizophrenia, psychotic disorder and schizoaffective disorder are more commonly linked with hallucinations.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, developing hallucinations alerts your doctor to a range of explanations, from the side effects of certain medications to other co-occurring conditions. 

Causes of Parkinson’s Hallucinations 

One or a combination of several things can cause a person with Parkinson’s to develop hallucinations. As the disease progresses, the risk of developing hallucinations heightens.


A leading cause, however, is medication such as Sinemet (levodopa), which is used to help manage symptoms such as tremors and difficulty with movement n people with this disorder. A rare side effect of these medications is hallucinations. It’s essential to note that not everyone who uses these medications experiences this particular side effect. 

Co-occurring Conditions

It’s possible for Parkinson’s to co-occur with other conditions, such as dementia. A common symptom of dementia is hallucinations. Experiencing hallucinations early in Parkinson’s disease is a warning sign that another neurological condition has gone undiagnosed.

Treatment for Parkinson’s Hallucinations  

Treatment for Parkinson’s hallucinations depends on what is causing the hallucinations. Here are treatment approaches considered for the management of Parkinson’s hallucinations. 

  • Hallucinations induced by medication: For people who experience Parkinson’s hallucinations as a result of medication, your doctor may tweak your dose in hopes that it can stop the side effect. High dosages of certain medications can cause Parkinson’s hallucinations. 
  • Other co-occurring conditions: If you begin to experience hallucinations in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your doctor will put you through a series of tests to rule out other co-occurring conditions. Dementia which commonly co-occurs with Parkinson’s disease can cause hallucinations. 
  • Medical intervention: In severe cases where hallucinations inhibit a person’s quality of life, medication may be prescribed to help reduce their severity and occurrence. Antipsychotic drugs are most commonly used to manage symptoms of hallucinations. However, they have bothersome side effects such as cognitive and motor decline. Your doctor will make the call on whether living with these side effects outweighs your need for the medication. In 2016, the FDA approved a medication called Nuplazid (pimavanserin), specifically formulated to treat symptoms of hallucinations and delusions in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Coping with Parkinson’s Hallucinations 

Living with hallucinations is difficult. It can make you question what’s real and what’s not. It can also cause you to develop mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. While your healthcare provider is in the best place to provide effective treatment, here are ways you can cope with the pressures of living with Parkinson’s hallucinations: 

  • Talk to your family and friends: Letting the people who are closest to you know what’s going on can relieve some of the pressure. When the people around you know what’s happening, they are more equipped to support you through hallucination episodes. 
  • Speak to your healthcare provider often: Keep your healthcare provider updated about changes and developments in your condition. If you have a hallucinatory episode even once, don’t dismiss it. Contact your doctor about it immediately. The earlier they are aware, the quicker they can get on top of the situation and provide you with efficient and adequate care. 

Hallucinations can also be difficult for a person with Parkinson’s carer to manage. Knowing how to manage a hallucinatory episode is crucial as a caretaker of a person with Parkinson’s disease.

Invalidating the experience of a person having hallucinations or telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t real does very little to help them.

Instead, provide support. If they become stressed, try out calming techniques such as deep breathing exercises to help alleviate their stress. 

A Word from Verywell  

Living with Parkinson’s can be challenging; developing hallucinations can make coping with the condition seem near impossible. The good news is that this is false.

Early detection of Parkinson’s hallucinations can help you and your doctor finds the most effective treatment for you to cope with the hallucinations and, in some cases, even stop them. For instance, if your hallucinations are triggered by your Parkinson’s medication, tweaking your dosage may help rid you of them.

Getting treatment for Parkinson’s hallucinations is crucial as soon as you become aware of it. Hallucinations can severely affect your quality of life and even shorten your life expectancy when living with Parkinson’s disease. 

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute on Aging. Parkinson’s disease: causes, symptoms, and treatments.

  2. National Hospital, London, Weil R, Reeves S. Hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease: new insights into mechanisms and treatments. ACNR. 2020;19(4):20-22.

  3. Fenelon G. Hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease: Prevalence, phenomenology and risk factors. Brain. 2000;123(4):733-745.

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Hallucinations: definition, causes, treatment & types. June 26, 2022

  5. National Hospital, London, Weil R, Reeves S. Hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease: new insights into mechanisms and treatments. ACNR. 2020;19(4):20-22.

  6. FDA. FDA approves first drug to treat hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease. April 29, 2016

By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.