Nightmare disorder, which is also called dream anxiety disorder, is characterized by the occurrence of repeated dreams during which the sleeper feels threatened and frightened. The sense of fear causes the person to awake.Nightmares in adults are often spontaneous. But they can also be caused by a variety of factors and underlying disorders.Some people have nightmares after having a late-night snack, which can increase metabolism and signal the brain to be more active. A number of medications also are known to contribute to nightmare frequency. Drugs that act on chemicals in the brain, such as antidepressants and narcotics, are often associated with nightmares. Non-psychological medications, including some blood pressure medications, can also cause nightmares in adults.
Treatment modalities for nightmare disorder include medications, most prominently prazosin, and several behavioral therapies, of which the nightmare-focused cognitive behavioral therapy variants, especially image rehearsal therapy, are effective.31.2% (95% confidence interval: 30.6-31.8%) of the sample reported waking up at least 3 nights per week and 7.7% (7.4% to 8.0%) of the sample had difficulty resuming sleep (DRS) after they woke up. Duration of the symptom was longer than one year in 78.8% of the cases.Little research exists on the use of medicines to treat nightmares from trauma. The medicine with the most promise is prazosin. Two studies have found that prazosin reduces nightmare symptoms. More research on prazosin is under way.