Are Dreams Linked to Mental Health?

The blog post includes a discussion about nightmares and mentions of graphic imagery. Please read with caution if any of these items triggers or upsets you.

Can dreams serve as diagnostic criteria for mental health?

Since I was a child I have always had very vivid and intense dreams that I typically would remember. Most of my dreams were and still are nightmares, but I am not quite sure what that means. As I got older I discovered quite a few people never really remember their dreams or even knew if they dreamed or not.

From the minimal research I have done it seems that everybody dreams, we just don’t all remember them once we wake up. This was so strange to me since my dreams had such a huge impact on my life. I would often feel pain from my dream when injured the next morning or when I woke up in the middle of the night due to the intense pain. I would occasionally wake up screaming or wake up paralyzed while still seeing things. When I was younger, my dreams were quite graphic – a lot of it had to do with me being chased or murdered or me killing someone else in self defense.

The messed up part was that a lot of it involved people I knew and cared about. I never realized how bad my dreams were until I had a conversation with friends about their dreams and I was shocked at the difference. My people told me they would have good dreams about the things they wanted in life. Some people would have dreams where they were rich and famous.

I never had dreams like that, or at least not that I remember. At best my dreams are nightmares about current problems I am having. Such as, when I am worried about a test I will have a dream that I arrive late to the test and fail because I couldn’t find the testing room. At worst I have graphic, violent dreams in which I somehow stumble upon a serial killer and see their victims, or become a victim, or I have to kill them to defend myself. It doesn’t sound so bad on paper, but seeing vivid images and feeling the guilt and fear in the moment while thinking it is all real used to have a huge impact on me.

I still have dreams like that, but I have just become desensitized to them. My dreams have always been horrifying or at least anxiety ridden. I tend to sleep through the night a lot better now, mostly because I am used to experiencing these dreams. However, every once in a while I still have ones that stick with me. That is kind of why I am writing this now. I wanted to talk to someone about it, but I cannot talk to my family members because it will disturb them or make them feel sad. I also can’t really pay to talk to a therapist right now, and I am not sure they will care to hear about my dreams.

As I mentioned in my other posts my dad passed away recently. I have been holding up alright, however I had a dream about him last night that really unnerved me. I had a dream he came to visit me (his spirit I guess), but he did not look like what he did while he was alive or what he would possibly look like in the afterlife. He looked more like what his corpse might look like by now. He still acted like himself but wiser, and I asked him if he went to heaven and he told me no.

He disappeared when I tried to figure out more, and weird things that I cannot even explain started happening. I felt like I was losing my mind while in a dream which has never happened to me before. I was still in the dream and thought this all was happening and I called my mom and told her I needed help and that I was seeing things and unsure if they were real or not.

It’s hard to explain how my head felt while dreaming. It was very jumbled and the dream became very jumbled. I suppose I could compare the dream to one’s thoughts while having a panic attack. It was all just rushing thoughts and images and intense feelings. I guess maybe a reaction I was having to what I was dreaming? The rest is too difficult to really explain, but when I woke up I felt fearful and like someone was watching me. I used to get that feeling all the time after a nightmare as a child, but it hasn’t happened to me in a long time.

I have done research over the years on dreams and what they might mean. I cannot really find anything conclusive, I just feel like my dreams impact me so intensely and there must be a reason. Perhaps it is just my brain manifesting my own fears constantly due to anxiety. I am not sure. Perhaps there is something darker going on and my subconscious is trying to tell me something. I am not sure I will ever know.

Dreams are not understood very well and I find so much contradictory information that I cannot even make up my own mind of what I think it all means. I guess I am just hoping someone will read this and know exactly what I am going through and could help shed some light on this. Perhaps I just need to see a professional, if my dreams do mean anything at all.

Have you ever experienced nightmares? What are your dream and/or nightmare patterns like for you? Have you ever sought help or received information about nightmares?

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