Frequency Of Nightmares

What Causes Nightmares?

Nightmares can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose nightmares, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "nightmares" as a symptom.  Here are five possibilities:
  • Anxiety
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Stress
  • Liver Congestion
  • Borderline Personality Disorder

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
having trouble concentrating
allergy to chemicals
high systolic blood pressure
past cocaine use
short-term memory failure
forgetting dreams
shortness of breath when at rest
normal work hours
feelings of insecurity
harsh punishment during childhood
diminished perspiration
very oily/sticky stools
... and more than 100 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of nightmares:
Cause Probability Status
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 91% Confirm
Anxiety 25% Unlikely
Stress 4% Ruled out
Borderline Personality Disorder 3% Ruled out
Liver Congestion 3% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Sleep-Related Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about frequency of nightmares:
How often and severely do you experience bad dreams? A nightmare is more intense than a bad dream, waking you up and causing significant emotional distress.
Possible responses:
→ Never / don't know
→ Bad dreams under once a month / rarely nightmares
→ Monthly bad dreams / nightmares under once a month
→ Weekly bad dreams / monthly nightmares
→ Weekly/nightly/recurring nightmares
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate occasional bad dreams, occasional nightmares, regular nightmares or frequent nightmares, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Borderline Personality Disorder

Those with borderline personality disorder suffer more from nightmares than normal.  This if often due to past childhood trauma, which is also a key factor in the development of this disorder.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Nightmare disorder has been linked to PTSD.  Those with PTSD may have intrusive mental images or hallucinations about a trauma, or recurrent nightmares, much more than the average person.

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