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.Nightmares are only considered a disorder if disturbing dreams cause you distress or keep you from getting enough sleep. Nightmares can be triggered by many factors, including: Stress, Truama, Sleep Deprivation, The sleep disturbance causes significant distress or problems with functioning during the day, Your dream wakes you, You can think clearly upon awakening and can recall details of your dream.
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.Prevalence varies because of different diagnostic criteria and different study populations. Nightmares have been noted to occur in 2-11% of young children “always and often” and in 15-31% “now and then.”