Night Terrors

What Causes Night Terrors?

Night terrors can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' 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 night terrors, 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 "night terrors" as a symptom.  Here are six possibilities:
  • Alcohol Consequences
  • Anxiety
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Lack Of Sleep
  • Stress
  • Depression

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:
alcoholism
macrocytic red cells
depression with fatigue
craving for salt
having a CFS diagnosis
slight eyelid twitch
restless legs at night
high systolic blood pressure
antidepressant drug use
eating during sleep hours
sleeping less than necessary
recent serious attitude to life
... and more than 90 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of night terrors:
Cause Probability Status
Stress 94% Confirm
Anxiety 51% Possible
Lack Of Sleep 19% Unlikely
Alcohol Consequences 3% Ruled out
Depression 3% Ruled out
Restless Leg Syndrome 2% 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.

If you indicate sleeping-related problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Have you experienced Night Terrors? Not the same as nightmares, they involve persistent fear, screaming, sweating, racing pulse, rapid breathing, and confusion lasting up to 30 minutes. You cannot be woken up and usually have no memory of a bad dream.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No, never
→ Yes, episode(s) in the past but not currently
→ Occasionally / a few episodes per year on average
→ Frequently / several episodes per month on average
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no history of night terrors, past night terrors, regular night terrors or frequent night terrors, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
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