Nightmares are dreams that cause intense fear. These dreams are often complex and fairly long. During the dream, the sleeper usually encounters or experiences a threat to their life or safety. Nightmares are also reported that do not involve physical danger.During the course of a nightmare the sleeper may moan, talk, or move slightly, although these signs do not always appear. The person wakes from the nightmare with a profound sense of fear. Waking is complete, and usually accompanied by increased heart rate, sweating, and other symptoms of anxiety or fear. Once fully awake, the person usually has a good recall of the dream and what was so frightening about it.
Diagnosis and medication can only be given to patients that report the recurring nightmares to a psychiatrist or other physician. Medications like prazosin are sometimes used to treat nightmares in people with PTSD. Therapy usually helps to deal with the frightening themes of the nightmares and alleviate the recurrence of the dreams. The persistent nightmares will usually improve as the patient gets older. Treatments are generally very successful.Among the whole sample, 3.5% of the men and 4.8% of the women reported frequent nightmares (P < 0.0001 for sex difference), but the prevalence was affected by the age of participants and the year of the survey. Nightmare prevalence increased with age, particularly among the men.