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animal hallucinations
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An_244044 posted:
I am concerned about a close relative who has been experiencing the hallucination of a lizard following her around for about 4 years. She has always been prone to serious depression and taken various medications. But in the past 4 years she cared for her husband and mother who both died within a year of each other, and obviously it has caused a great amount of stress and anxiety. This "lizard" follows her everywhere, gets her car, houses she visits, and keeps her awake at night so she has to sleep during the day, and gets very little sleep at that. I have relatives who think this is a demonic attack, which I feel is a dangerous approach. Its obviously a product of her mind and any medications she may be on coupled with her intense depression and recent events. I don't know how to help her as she does not want any.
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susiemargaret responded:
hello, A244 --

visual hallucinations involving animals can have causes ranging from neurological damage to sleep disorders to psychiatric problems to medications or other drugs. obviously, deciding on the correct treatment depends on a correct diagnosis of cause. this is not your most serious dilemma, however.

the most important statement in your post is that you "don't know how to help your relative as she does not want any." unless she changes her mind, i am afraid that there is very little you can do.

does she understand that what she is seeing is not real, or does she believe it is real but that no one else can (or is willing to) see it? is she distressed by its presence? if so, why doesn't she want any help to get rid of it? who has talked with her about getting help?

is she otherwise competent; in other words, is she able to manage her own affairs? if not, then it might be possible for a family member to petition a court to become her legal caretaker, and then force her to get medical attention (you will need the help of a lawyer to do this). from your description, tho, it does not sound as if this is the case.

do you know if her dr is aware that she has this hallucination? altho her dr will not discuss her care with you, i don't see anything wrong with writing a letter to her dr to relay your observations about her behavior and your concern that she may be in need of treatment.

i am so sorry this has happened, and i hope you can change her mind. she is very fortunate to have you looking after her interests. please keep us posted on how she is doing.

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
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Thomas L Schwartz, MD responded:
Hi- this could be a medical brain issue (seizure, tumor, etc). It could be part of the depression and be treated by meds. It could be a side effect of other meds she is on- some parkinson's meds can do this.

Can she see a doctor to help sort it out?