Disturbing and Intrusive Nightmares

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    Disturbing and Intrusive Nightmares

    A nightmare is a frightening dream that causes you to wake up and is connected to unpleasant emotions like fear or worry. Children frequently experience nightmares, but anyone can experience them. Typically, occasional dreams are nothing to be concerned about.

    Children between the ages of 3 and 6 may experience their first nightmares, which tend to lessen by the time they reach 10. Girls seem to experience nightmares more frequently during the adolescent and young adult years than do guys. Some individuals experience them as adults or their entire lives.

    Though nightmare disorder is somewhat uncommon, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and get help from a psychotherapy and counseling center. The term "nightmare disorder" refers to a condition in which dreams frequently occur, cause anxiety, interfere with sleep, impair everyday functioning, or instill a fear of falling asleep.


    The second portion of your night is when nightmares are most likely to occur. Nightmares might infrequently happen, happen regularly, or even happen many times throughout the night. Even though episodes are usually brief, they wake you up, which makes it challenging to get back asleep.

    A nightmare may involve these features:

    • Your dream is extremely upsetting, seems vivid and genuine, and frequently becomes worse as it progresses.
    • Themes of safety or survival are frequently included in your dream narrative, yet it may also contain other unsettling themes.
      You are awakened by a dream.
    • Your dream has left you feeling terrified, nervous, furious, sad, or disgusted.
    • When you're in bed, your heart may be racing or you may perspire.
    • When you wake up, your mind is clear, and you can remember the specifics of your dream.
    • You're upset by your dream, which makes it difficult for you to simply get back to sleep.

    Nightmares are only considered a disorder if you experience:

    • Frequent occurrences
    • Significant suffering or impairment throughout the day, such as continuous fear or anxiety or worry before bed about experiencing another nightmare
    • Difficulties paying attention or remembering things, or you keep thinking about dreams
    • Daytime sleepiness, fatigue, or low energy
    • Problems functioning at work or school or in social situations
    • Behavior problems related to bedtime or fear of the dark
    • Parents or other caregivers may experience substantial sleep disturbance and distress if they have a child with a nightmare disorder.

    When to see a doctor

    The occasional nightmare is usually nothing to worry about. You can simply disclose your child's nightmares during a routine well-child exam. However, it’s time to seek help from an adolescent therapist in Miami if you or your child have nightmares that:

    • Frequently occur and happen consistently over time
    • Often disturb sleep
    • Create a dread of going to sleep
    • Cause issues with daily behavior or functional challenges


    The diagnosis of nightmare disorders is not usually made with tests. Only when unpleasant dreams cause you distress or prevent you from obtaining enough sleep are nightmares regarded as a disorder. Your therapist in Broward county examines your medical history and your symptoms to determine whether you have a nightmare problem. Your assessment can consist of:

    Exam You might get a physical examination to rule out any disorders that could be causing your dreams. The best psychologist in Broward county could recommend that you see a mental health specialist if your recurrent nightmares point to underlying anxiety.

    Symptoms discussion A diagnosis of nightmare disorder is typically made after listening to a patient describe their nightmares. Your therapist could inquire about any sleep disorders in your family. If necessary, your mental health professional may also inquire about your or your partner's sleeping habits and raise the prospect of additional sleep problems.

    Nocturnal sleep study (polysomnography) Your doctor can suggest an overnight sleep study if your sleep is really being interrupted in order to figure out whether the nightmares are related to another sleep problem. While you sleep, sensors attached to your body will record and keep track of your brain waves, blood oxygen levels, breathing, heart rate, and eye and leg movements. In order to record your actions during sleep cycles, you can be videotaped.

    If you need help processing your nightmares, reach out to Mark Lang, L.C.S.W. - Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist at New Era Therapy Now.