20% of children report hearing voices

A new psychiatric study, by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has found that 20% of children aged 11-13 report hearing voices.

Study finds children hear voices

The study carried out psychiatric examinations on 2,500 children in Dublin aged between 11 and 16. The research found that 21%-23% of the younger group, 11-13 year olds, reported hearing voices.
Of this group, just over half were found to have non-psychotic psychiatric  disorders such as depression. From the older group, 13-16 year olds, just 7% reported hearing voices but almost 80% of those who heard voices had a diagnosable psychological problem.

In most cases, the auditory voices stop on their own but if they continue, children may be at risk of developing mental illness or behavioural disorders.

Underlying problem

Lead researcher Dr Ian Kelleher, from the Department of Psychiatry at the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “We found that auditory hallucinations were common even in children as young as 11 years old.”

“Auditory hallucinations can vary from hearing an isolated sentence now and then, to hearing ‘conversations’ between two or more people lasting for several minutes.

“It may present itself like screaming or shouting, and other times it could sound like whispers or murmurs. It varies greatly from child to child, and frequency can be once a month to once every day.”

The study suggests that hearing voices is much more common in younger children than previously thought. In most cases, these auditory hallucinations will resolve themselves in time but could be an indication that they require a more in depth psychiatric assessment.
Source: British Journal of Psychiatry
Photography: Jim Simonson @Flickr

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