Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AWS) is a rare neurological disorder. It causes changes in visual perception, body image, and experience of time.

What is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome?

  • Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AWS) is a rare Source that causes temporary episodes of distorted perception and disorientation.
  • You may feel larger or smaller than you actually are.
  • You may also find that the room you’re in, or the surrounding furniture seems to shift and feel further away or closer than it really is.
  • These episodes aren’t the result of a problem with your eyes or a hallucination.

  • They’re caused by changes in how your brain perceives the environment you’re in and how your body looks.

  • This syndrome can affect multiple senses, including vision, touch, and hearing.

  • You may also lose a sense of time. Time may seem to pass faster or slower than you think.

  • AWS primarily affects children and young adults.

  • Most people grow out the disordered perceptions as they age, but it’s still possible to experience this in adulthood.

Causes of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

  • It’s not clear what causes AWS, but doctors are trying to better understand it.

  • They do know that AWS isn’t a problem with your eyes, a hallucination, or a mental or neurological illness.

  • Researchers believe unusual electrical activity in the brain causes abnormal blood flow to the parts of the brain that process your environment and experience visual perception.

  • This unusual electrical activity may be the result of several causes.

Other possible causes include:

  • Stress

  • Cough medicine

  • Use of hallucinogenic drugs

  • Epilepsy

  • Stroke

  • Brain tumor

Symptoms of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome


People who experience AWS are more likely to experience migraines. Some researchers and doctors believe AWS is actually an aura. This is an early sensory indication of a migraine. Others believe AWS may be a rare subtype of migraine.

Size distortion

Micropsia is the sensation that your body or objects around you are growing smaller. Macropsia is the sensation that your body or objects around you are growing larger. Both are common experiences during an episode of AWS.

Perceptual distortion

If you feel that objects near you are growing larger or that they’re closer to you than they really are, you’re experiencing pelopsia. The opposite of that is teleopsia. It’s the sensation that objects are getting smaller or farther away from you than they really are.

Time distortion

Some people with AWS lose their sense of time. They may feel time is moving faster or slower than it really is.

Sound distortion

Every sound, even typically quiet sounds, seems loud and intrusive.

Loss of limb control or loss of coordination

This symptom occurs when muscles feel as if they’re acting involuntarily. In other words, you may feel as though you’re not controlling your limbs. Likewise, the altered sense of reality can affect how you move or walk. You may feel uncoordinated or have difficulty moving about as you normally would.

Diagnosis of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

MRI scan

An MRI can produce highly detailed images of your organs and tissues, including the brain.

Electroencephalography (EEG)

An EEG can measure the electrical activity of the brain.

Blood tests

Your doctor can rule out or diagnose viruses or infections that could be causing AWS symptoms, such as EBV

Treatment of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

  • There’s no treatment for AWS. If you or your child experiences symptoms, the best way to handle them is to rest and wait for them to pass.

  • It’s also important to reassure yourself or your loved one that the symptoms aren’t harmful.

  • Treating what you and your doctor suspect is the underlying cause for AWS episodes may help prevent an episode.

  • For example, if you experience migraines, treating them may prevent future episodes.

  • Likewise, treating an infection could help stop the symptoms.

  • If you and your doctor suspect stress plays a role, you may find that meditation and relaxation can help reduce symptoms.

diseases treatments syndromes disorders health alice-in-wonderland-syndrome aws

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