How to cope with hearing voices

About voices, who hears them and how to cope if they are a problem.

Your stories

Hearing voices

Posted on 09/01/2013

Hearing voices with bipolar disorder

Katie, who has bipolar disorder, describes her experience of hearing voices when she is manic or depressed.

Posted on 16/12/2014

He/ She/ They/ It

In the first part of Lilith's blog, they share their experience of gender identity and hearing voices.

Posted on 20/07/2015

What treatment is available?

If your voices are a problem you might want to seek medical treatment. This page covers:

How will I be diagnosed?

If you go to your GP they may refer you to a psychiatrist who may give you a diagnosis and treatment. Your GP or psychiatrist may see your voices as a result of an illness and prescribe medication and other treatment.

Your GP should always check to that there are no physical reasons why you are hearing voices before you are prescribed medication or referred to a psychiatrist. For example they should check:

  • that you don't have a high temperature and are delirious
  • if it's a side effect of any medication you're taking

Different doctors may have different approaches. You can always visit another GP or get a second opinion if you are not satisfied.

Our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem have more information on getting the treatment that is right for you.

You might find getting a diagnosis is a positive experience because:

  • you find that a diagnosis helps you make sense of your experiences
  • you feel like you have support in place to help you when things are difficult

However, you may find this sort of support more challenging because:

  • seeing your voices as something to be 'treated' may make you feel powerless to control or manage your voices yourself
  • being diagnosed with a mental health problem may make you feel worried, as though you can never recover

Talking treatments

There are different types of talking treatments but they are all designed to give you space to explore difficult feelings and experiences with a trained professional.

See our pages on talking treatments for more information on how they work and how to access them.

Type of talking treatment How it might help with voices

Can help if you feel your voices are related to traumatic experiences. A psychotherapist may be able to help you:

  • identify why the voices say what they say
  • think about what makes you hear voices
  • find better ways of coping with them
  • learn to control your voices
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Can help you deal with how the voices make you feel and think about yourself without always going into the underlying reasons for them. CBT may help you:

  • reduce your anxiety about the voices
  • help you stand up to them
  • help you gain control over your voices

See our pages on CBT for more information.

You may be offered a type of CBT for psychosis call CBTp - although this is not usually used to treat hearing voices specifically. CBTp helps you to think about the beliefs you have about your voices and how these beliefs affect your experience of hearing voices.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

MBCT is a type of therapy that combines mindfulness and CBT. It may help you:

  • focus on what is happening around you when your voices are distracting you
  • help you manage how you feel about your voices and what has happened to you in the past.

See our pages on mindfulness for more information.

Talking therapies work well for me and are essential for improving my coping mechanisms.


If your voices are very troubling and you have been referred to a psychiatrist, they are likely to prescribe an antipsychotic drug. These drugs may:

  • stop the voices or make them less frightening for you
  • make you feel indifferent to the voices, even though you can still hear them
  • make the voices quieter and less intrusive, so you feel calmer and less upset by them

Medication may be something you need only in the short term, allowing you to learn other ways of coping with the voices so that you then no longer need drugs.

See our pages on antipsychotics for general information about this type of medication, and details about specific drugs.

Watch David talk about his experience of getting help for hearing voices.


This information was published in May 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

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