Nearly everyone can recall an experience—or a handful of them—with nightmares, memories of crawling into their parents’ bed or strolling down the hall for a refreshing glass of water after a particularly harrowing dream being one of the elements that serves to unite childhoods across the country and around the world. Nightmares don’t subside for plenty of people, however, and some experience more disturbing dreams than others. For some people, particularly those struggling with concerns in their personal, social, and professional lives, nightmares can be debilitating. Recently, this issue has made it to the forefront of the mental health industry for its implication in the risk of suicide.
Though other symptoms such as depression are more commonly associated with suicide, the prevalence of nightmares in suicidal thoughts and behaviors has been a growing subject of interest for mental health professionals. While most people experience occasional bad dreams, chronic sufferers of nightmares may be internalizing their pain or engaging in other thoughts or activities that don’t serve their overall well-being. A recent study led by a psychology doctoral candidate at Florida State University has investigated the link between nightmares and suicide, finding that the unpleasant and terrifying dreams are significantly and independently associated with suicidal symptoms.
The research calls for greater development of therapies involving the acquisition of quality, relaxing sleep, and points out that people can overcome nightmares and other issues associated with rest to achieve a better quality of life while awake. The study, which is likely to spawn new inquiries into the links between sleep, mood, and behavior, was presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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