Prescription Drugs That Can Cause Hallucinations

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Mirriam-Webster defines a hallucination as a “perception of objects with no reality.” Hallucinations cause us to believe we are seeing or hearing something that isn't really there. They can be caused by head injuries, illegal substances like LSD, medical conditions such as dementia, sleep deprivation and even stress. Some prescription medications also can cause hallucinations, either as a common side effect or a more serious reaction.

Amitriptyline

Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant drug used to treat moderate to severe depression. Common side effects include drowsiness, constipation, dry mouth, blurred vision, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, disorientation and confusion, insomnia and increased sensitivity to light. Possible serious side effects are hallucinations, psychosis and increased depression and thoughts of suicide. This drug should not be stopped abruptly, as it can cause withdrawal.

Diazepam

Also known as Valium, diazepam is prescribed for anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures and alcohol withdrawal. It is also used as a sedative. Diazepam may cause fatigue, speech difficulties, confusion, depression, headaches, low blood pressure and dizziness. Serious side effects include hallucinations, psychosis, difficulty breathing and heart problems. Diazepam can be physically addictive.

Amantadine

Amantadine is an antiviral medication primarily used to treat influenza A, but it also is used in treating Parkinson's patients. Amantadine can impair your thinking and cause hallucinations. Other common side effects include nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, nightmares, abnormal dreams and diarrhea. Serious reactions may include thoughts of suicide, respiratory failure, psychosis, seizures and coma. Amantadine can interfere with the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

Eszopiclone

Sold under the brand name Lunesta, eszopiclone is prescribed to treat insomnia. It is meant to cause drowsiness and should be taken only when you can commit to a full night of sleep. Some patients taking eszopiclone experience blackouts. It also can cause headache, dry mouth, hallucinations, depression, anxiety and decreased sex drive. Eszopiclone may be habit forming.

Diethylpropion

Diethylpropion is a short-term appetite suppressant similar to an amphetamine. It is prescribed along with diet and exercise in obesity treatment. The most common side effects are restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, changes to sex drive and diarrhea or constipation. Serious side effects include hallucinations, abnormal behavior, high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. This drug can mask feelings of tiredness, so use caution when operating a car or heavy machinery.

Acetaminophen/pentazocine

Talacen, the brand name for the opiod combination drug acetaminophen/pentasocine, is used to treat mild to moderate pain. It may cause dizziness, nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, sweating, ringing in the ears, blurred vision and dry mouth. More serious effects include hallucinations, seizures, bruising or bleeding, faintness and jaundice. Because it contains acetaminophen, tell your doctor if you drink more than three alcoholic beverages a day. An overdose of acetaminophen can cause liver damage and failure.

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