There is a whole field of study that is entirely dedicated to understanding and interpreting our dreams. Yes, those vivid thoughts that you have as you sleep can actually be used to tell us a lot of information about the state of our mental health. So, what are the main things that we should be looking out for? Should you also be worried about dreams and what they mean?
Vivid Dreams Can Mean You Are Highly Stressed.
If you have some very vivid and crazy dreams, then it could be a sign that you are suffering from stress and clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed. It has also been ascertained that driven people who work in a constantly stressful environment have been shown to be more likely to suffer from these kinds of dreams on a regular basis. It is believed that it is linked to the brain finding it difficult to process the information that it has picked up during the day, so it is playing catch up during the night leading to more restless nights.
Vivid Dreams Can Be A Sign Of Bipolar Disorder
It is accepted that people with bipolar disorder can suffer from very vivid dreams and even though some argue that it can be linked to medication, this is not always the case. Instead, it is linked to the way in which people with vivid dreams suffer from disrupted sleep patterns and various sleep disorders and it is known that there is a connection between this and bipolar.
However, it is important to point out that just because you have these kinds of dreams does not mean that you have this serious mental illness, but it is at least possible. The only question that is unknown is whether the dreams can occur at the start of bipolar disorder or if it is a symptom that appears later on and is almost a by-product of the illness.
More Dreams Than Usual Can Point To Depression
It has been known since the 1970’s that there is a link to an increase in the number of dreams that a person can have with depression. Studies have shown that people with depression can have three or four times the number of dreams than a normal person and once again it is linked to the type of sleep that the person tends to have when they are depressed. It alters the REM sleep that the person gets when they are depressed and this, in turn, alters the types of dreams as well as the ability to recall them. An individual that is depressed can also find it easier to recall the dreams and they will also often feel tired in the morning as a direct result of the extra brain activity during the night.
Nightmare disorder is when an individual has repeated nightmares over a certain period of time and this is something that is actually recognized by psychiatrists and psychologists alike. This particular disorder has been linked to a range of mental health issues including PTSD, generalized anxiety, sleep disorders, and stress, so identifying the root cause is not always easy. It is important that an individual knows the difference between this and night terrors so that a doctor or psychiatrist can get to the actual problem.
Nightmares and Borderline Personality Disorder
As well as PTSD, it is known that nightmares may be an indicator of borderline personality disorder. As with other examples given above, it is often linked to the way in which sleep patterns are altered due to the disorder itself. Research has shown that people with borderline personality disorder often suffer from more dream anxiety than other people. It is this anxiety that can lead to the development of nightmares and the same study has shown that this anxiety can be attributed to trauma that the individual had earlier in their childhood and indeed this is one key factor in the development of this particular disorder.
Nightmares and PTSD
People that suffer from post traumatic stress disorder report a higher number of nightmares than the average person. There are studies that show that people with this particular disorder may have higher adrenaline levels, so in turn the adrenaline results in nightmares and dreams that contain a lot more energy. It has also been medically proven that certain medication that lowers blood pressure and the production of adrenaline in PTSD sufferers also leads to a reduction in the nightmares hence the certainty of the link between the two. In the case of PTSD, it is common for the individual to actually relive the events that has led to the development of PTSD, so being aware of the nature of the dream is extremely important in helping with the diagnosis.
Anxiety And Dreams
People that suffer from anxiety will often have strong dreams containing a lot of detail and they can also be quite prolonged rather than short bursts of dream activity. It is believed that it is linked to the activity of the mind during the day as it is known that, when anxious, the energy levels in the brain are significantly higher. The brain also tends to absorb more information which needs to then be processed and this is what can then lead to the activity in the dream. If the anxiety is not tackled, then this can become a recurring theme and the difficulty here is that it does tend to play a role in changing sleep patterns and other examples also state that sleep patterns do indeed play a major part in not only the ability to remember a dream, but also our mental health.
As you can see, dreams are indeed capable of helping us to understand the state of an individuals mental health. However, you must remember that it is not the only indicator and of course it does not need to link to mental health issues at all, but if you do suffer from repeated nightmares or vivid dreams, then discussing them with your doctor may help you to then have a peaceful sleep.