Study reports important connection between nightmares and suicidal thoughts

Study reports important connection between nightmares and suicidal thoughts


How often do you experience unpleasant or frightening dreams? It is important for you to know that as a new study has found an important connection between nightmares and suicidal thoughts, plans and endeavors.

Researchers claim this study to be the first to divulge the relationship between frightening dreams and suicidal attempts, which is somewhat mediated by a multi-step pathway through entrapment, defeat, and hopelessness.

Various study analyses suggest that nightmares may work as a stressor in people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Donna L Littlewood, the chief investigator from the Manchester University in Britain, said that PTSD ups the chances of suicidal behavior and thoughts and their research shows that nightmares – a hallmark indicator of PTSD – may be a significant treatment target to bring down suicide risk.

“In addition, monitoring and targeting levels of negative cognitive appraisals such as defeat, entrapment, and hopelessness, may reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” Ms. Littlewood further elaborated in the paper issued in the Journal called Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The nightmares may prompt some particular types of depressing cognitive thoughts like entrapment, defeat, and hopelessness – which add force to our behaviors and suicidal thoughts.

The pathways between nightmares and suicidal behaviors seem to function independently of depression and comorbid insomnia. For the research, information was collected from 91 participants who had experienced painful incidents, 51 of whom met PTSD criteria at present and an additional 24 of whom asked for an initial diagnosis of PTSD.

Nightmares were assessed by evaluating the frequency and intensity ratings of pertinent things on the clinician-governed PTSD scale.

People who participated were asked to fill up questionnaires measuring suicidal tendencies, defeat, hopelessness, and entrapment. The outcomes reveal that suicidal tendencies, plans or attempts were found in 62% of participants who experienced unpleasant or frightening dreams and only 20% of those without such dreams.

The authors advise that there are additional pathways supporting the relationship between nightmares and suicidal thoughts which should be acknowledged with the help of further research. Considering the interactions between sleeplessness, PTSD and suicide, a measure of insomnia was included as a covariate. The research was also performed with and without those participants who suffered from depression.

This research was performed under the tutelage of Simon D. Kyle, Ph.D., of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the Oxford University in the U.K.