mental health Mandy Kloppers

Dreaming in Depression (and Other Mental Illness)

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Although some interesting findings have been made about the dreams of people with severe depression, there has been no comprehensive study of their dreams.

Some individuals are more likely to suffer nightmares than others. Some people experience strange dreams that don’t make sense to them. Other individuals, on the other hand, are able to manage their dreams. When it comes to dreams and mental health, is there a correlation?

Is the content of dreams a reflection of one’s mental state?

“People who are more worried during the day also have more negative feelings in their dreams, whereas people who are more relaxed during the day have more pleasant emotions in their dreams. This also suggests that a person’s mental health may be reflected in their dream content.

Does having a mental disorder lead to having horrible dreams?

A possible relationship between nightmares and depression or other mental health issues has been found. Some medical problems, such as heart disease or cancer, may bring on nightmares as a byproduct. It’s possible to have nightmares if you have sleep issues that prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Dreams and Mental Health:

The brain is a mysterious organ that will likely never be entirely understood. While sleeping, our brains are still working, and we have dreams.

It’s common for individuals to assume that dreams are messages from our subconscious, whereas scientists believe that dreams are just a collection of random brain impulses that are frequently linked to our experiences from the day before. These problems may also cause abnormalities in the brain, which is why persons with mental health issues are typically distracted throughout the day. Both may influence our dreams in different ways. It’s frightening to read about the connection between dreams and mental illness, but it seems to be complex and it varies depending on the particular mental health problem.

Dreams and Depression

If you’re suffering from depression, you’re not only feeling sad or lonely; your brain structure and chemistry may also be affected in some way. Because the brains of people who are sad vary from those of those who are not, these distinctions may explain why people who are depressed have different experiences with dreams.

Depression Makes You Dream More

People who are sad tend to have more dreams. Depressed individuals might dream up to three times more often than their non-depressed counterparts, according to one research. Why does this happen? If you’re sad, you may want to increase the frequency of your dreams in order to better manage your emotions and process bad ones, since this is something that many individuals experience.

Depression and Dream Recall

If you had a dream, it doesn’t imply you’ll remember it. While depressed individuals tend to have more dreams, they also tend to forget the ones they do have. However, this may also happen in persons who have not yet sought therapy for depression and are taking antidepressants.

Other Mental Illness


From generalized concern to panic episodes, anxiety disorders include a broad spectrum of symptoms. Anxiety disorders are also characterized by a host of other symptoms, such as a persistent sense of dread, difficulty falling or staying asleep, nightmares, racing thoughts, and specific phobias.

Symptoms may be assessed by a mental health professional to establish the sort of mental illness you may be experiencing.


Having trouble sleeping or staying asleep is known as insomnia. Assuming that you’re able to go to sleep, it might be difficult to return to sleep if you wake up. Depression and anxiety have been linked to insomnia, which is a sleep condition in its own right.

It is possible to alleviate symptoms by working with a mental health expert to acquire healthier sleep patterns or by taking specific drugs. In addition, it is much simpler to manage your insomnia once the fundamental reason has been identified.

Addiction and Abuse of Substances

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Problems (DSM-5) classifies drug and alcohol addictions as mental health disorders. Symptoms might range from mild to life-threatening depending on the kind of medicine you’re taking.

Co-occurring disorders are common among addicts and drug abusers. That is to say, in addition to their addiction, they are suffering from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other condition that has gone untreated.

Addiction treatment options should be as extensive as possible. Medical detox and outpatient treatment might be helpful in overcoming addiction.

Depression, insomnia, and tiredness

Dreaming more is a wonderful idea, but it doesn’t truly assist those who are sad. Although individuals who are sad are more likely to have dreams, they are also more likely to be exhausted afterward. Those who are depressed may have trouble falling asleep, but once they do, they spend more time in the REM stage of sleep, when dreams occur. In REM sleep, a person’s brain waves and heart rate are practically identical to what they are while they are awake, as is their heavy breathing. It’s no surprise that weariness is a typical sign of depression since individuals who are sad tend to have more dreams.

A Mood Disorder with Frequent Nightmares

Depression and dreams are also linked by the uniqueness of the dream’s backdrop. Many individuals suffer from terrible nightmares due to depression. There was a correlation between having many dreams and having severe depression in one research where 28.4% of individuals reported having frequent nightmares. Depression dreams may be anything from terrifying to just strange.

Dreams and Anxiety

There are several ways in which dreams and mental illness are linked. Anxiety and dreams have a special connection, just as sadness and dreams do. In the United States, anxiety is widespread and many individuals have anxiety disorders. Anxiety may have a significant influence on a person’s waking life, but it can also have an affect on their dreams and sleep.

Insomnia and Nightmares

People with anxiety problems commonly experience nightmares, much as those who suffer from mental health issues such as depression. Studies have indicated that those who are anxious are more likely to have a bad dream influence than those who are calm. Frequent dreams may be a sign of a more serious anxiety illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). CBT has been shown to have a significant impact on the quantity of disturbing nightmares associated with anxiety disorders. 

Despite the fact that anxiety and dreams seem to have a strong link, more investigation is needed to have a better understanding of the relationship.

Insomnia and Anxiety

Insomnia is a common complaint among patients with a variety of anxiety disorders. Panic disorder sufferers are more likely to have difficulty falling asleep and to wake up more often throughout the night. It is very uncommon for people with generalized anxiety disorders to have sleep disturbances and difficulty falling asleep. 

It’s possible that the connection between worry and sleep is more convoluted than we presently recognize because of the lack of clarity in the study.

Abuse, Delusions, and Mental Illness

Mental health conditions may also have an influence on a person’s ability to fall asleep. Anxiety, sadness, and nightmares are all linked to the brain, as is drug addiction, which may alter the structure and function of the brain. As a result of these circumstances, alcohol and drug usage may also play a role in the sleep disruptions that people experience.

It’s possible that individuals who are suffering from mental health issues like depression or anxiety are making matters worse by abusing substances like alcohol or narcotics. Dual diagnosis therapy is critical for these patients in order to address both of their issues.

In conclusion

You may be getting a message from your dreams. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or any mental disease, don’t forget there is always help or solution.  

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Mandy Kloppers
Author: Mandy Kloppers