Auditory Hallucinations with PTSD

I’ve experienced exploding head syndrome for several years – maybe about a decade now? When I’m under a lot of stress, I can “hear” loud sounds when I’m asleep, usually shortly after I’m asleep, that wake me up with a start and a bit of panic. There wasn’t actually a noise, it was a fabrication that seemed VERY real.

Over time I learned to identify what was happening and to be able to know that what I thought I had “heard” was not a banging door or threat to safety in the night. It was also one of the first indicators I ever had that I was under too much stress.

Fast-forward to living with PTSD, and I now experience an entire suite of auditory hallucinations, from cell phone noises to movement noise to things I can’t even identify but think I “hear”. It’s no longer just in my sleep, it’s throughout the day. The noises aren’t always as startling as the sudden, loud “bangs” of exploding head syndrome, but they do create a weird and uncomfortable environment for me, especially if I am by myself. I’m still working to learn how to differentiate between real and hallucinated sounds, and they seem to still be caused by high stress.

If it seems a little odd that I know I’m hearing sounds that aren’t real and that I’m trying to learn how to tell the difference, welcome to managing PTSD. I experience a lot that isn’t real, but I experience it just as if it were. I have had visual hallucinations as well, I can be under extreme emotional distress that does not have a rational basis, and if I were not able to figure out the differences and identify them as such, I would spend a lot more time being terrified than I already do. So I keep chipping at the neuron misfires in the hope that one of these days my brain will stop responding to stress this way.

photo of a boy listening in headphones
Photo by jonas mohamadi on


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