As medical science and research improve it becomes increasingly more apparent that sleep plays a vital function in mood adjustment; in truth, that’s the origin of the folklore behind establishing an early bedtime for the kids. But although the connections between depression and sleep are very well documented, the role of dreams to maintain emotional health remains one of the more confusing and very least understood elements in the function of sleep.
Since the 1970s, psychologists treating individuals struggling with major depression observed that a great many of these patients also reported experiencing more dreams compared to the ordinary individual. The fact is that, those who has been diagnosed as clinically depressed experienced dreaming three to four times as often. Furthermore, these patient’s quality of dreaming was more extreme as well. Generally they experienced more intense feelings, more destructive subjects, more bad dreams, and more commonly upsetting dreams. It appears that dreaming is an integral part of depression and sleep.
To make the situation all the more uncomfortable, these upsetting dreams are oftentimes combined with insomnia and much less sleep, particularly the “deep” sleep that results in us feeling renewed and rejuvenated. In place of waking up rested, the clinically depressed dreamer wakes up feeling just like he has experienced a fight all night long and then has to get up and do it again in the daytime.
Do Dreams Help Depression?
The link between dreams. depression and sleep has led to shifts in thinking about the value of dreams. Many specialists believe that REM dreams actually make depression worse. This is a developing trend in neuroscience, encouraging the search for the perfect medicine to eradicate bad dreams. This approach has some advantages, particularly for individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As an example, medications like Prazosin, originally recommended for high blood pressure levels, reduce adrenaline and minimize the nightmare dreams that trouble PTSD victims.
Yet, successes with highly traumatized patients leads some other researchers to contemplate an anti-sleeping drug for anyone who wants to have reduced sleep (and fewer dreams as a result). Given that we do not wholly understand the complicated function of dreams, depression and sleep – or even of sleep itself for that matter – this approach is quite hazardous.
Certainly, the age-old belief that nightmares act as a “tension-reducing” process is subject to scrutiny, as recent studies suggest that nightmares often raise anxiety. This doesn’t imply that bad dreams can be harmful for us. Rather, think about the concept nightmares may produce stress, giving those who dream the chance to face their inner thoughts head-on, in both the dream and later in their waking life. Whether or not this really is beneficial depends on the dreamer’s depression, stress and anxiety levels, the particular life circumstance, and the personal preparation required for this level of dreaming.
Depression and Sleep Treatments
A standard therapy for depression today is SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), that increase serotonin levels and also raise moods. Ultimately, this minimizes REM sleep. Sometimes this is a very good thing because the respite from bad dreams or nightmares is often a wonderful bonus when added to a much more restful night’s sleep. However, some patients have observed that SSRIs may increase their bad dreams and give them more weird dreams. So when looking for treatment methods for depression, it’s advised to tell the doctor about insomnia and the bad dreams or nightmares, because a number of the popular antidepressants will only make these symptoms worse.