Bad dreams could mean the blues. Depression and insomnia may give you more nightmares , suggests new Finnish research. 

In the study, 28 percent of participants with severe depression experienced frequent nightmares (more than once a week), while just 2 percent of people with no symptoms of the mental condition reported scary shuteye. And 17 percent of insomniacs said they often had nightmares, compared to just over 1 percent of people who slept well. 

The same negative emotions and anxieties that are linked to depression and insomnia while you’re awake may also run through your brain while you’re asleep, potentially contributing to nightmares, says lead author Nils Sandman, M.Sc. (Yep, that’s really his last name!)

However, the study does bring up the chicken-or-the-egg conundrum: It likely varies from person to person whether nightmares are a cause or a symptom of sleep and mood disorders, Sandman says.  

Signs of Depression in Men

Treating these conditions may help reduce the occurrence of scary dreams, says Sandman.

There’s no set number of nightmares that points to a problem—they become an issue once you feel they’ve become too taxing, Sandman says. But if your frightening dreams frequently wake you up at night, make you hesitant to go to sleep, or linger in your thoughts when you’re awake, you might want to them up with your doc.  

Dream Decoder


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