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Anxiety-induced nightmares - how to cope?

(8 Posts)
Lottapianos Mon 05-Nov-12 09:45:46

I had a bad one last night - can't go into details but it was triggered by a conversation with my parents earlier in the evening (history of emotional abuse, undergoing psychotheray, experiencing depression and anxiety). I woke up shaking and on the verge of tears. I had a really hard time coming out of it if you know what I mean - I felt like I was still in the dream for about an hour after waking. I was being chased by a man (a real life 'monster' figure) in the dream and was actually scared to get out of bed, it felt so real! I tried to tell myself that it was just a dream, that I was in bed and safe and DP was beside me but I still felt petrified.

DP is away for work next week and I'm already panicking about how much more scary it will be without him there. Any advice on how to avoid nightmares or at least manage them if they happen?


Lottapianos Mon 05-Nov-12 11:59:14


tutu100 Mon 05-Nov-12 12:08:15

I suffer terrible anxiety (can't leave the house atm). I often wake up having a panic attack. I'm not sure if it's the same thing as what you are experiencing. I am aware that it is most likely a panic attack (even though the thought that I might be dying is in my head). I keep telling myself that it is a panic attack. I am fine and the feelings will pass. As long as I am aware it is a panic attack I can cope. I also lie very straight with my hands resting on my tummy making sure that I am breathing from my tummy. Quite often the act of forcing myself to focus on my breathing helps calm me down.

I have diazepam as a back up (which I haven't had to take), but I like knowing I have it as an option if I don't calm down within 1/2 an hour (thats the time I set myself to try and calm myself down). Another friend once said about calling the samaritans if I just needed to talk to someone whilst I calmed myself down. Again I've never done this, but in the middle of the night you can feel so alone, so just knowing that I could call someone helps. I don't know if something like that would reassure you a bit.

Are you able to discuss this with your psychotherapist before your DP goes away? I'm guessing the terrible dreams are due to you having the therapy - I know I've been told that certain types of therapy can rake up things you've kept suppressed and so things can seem worse before they get better.

Lottapianos Mon 05-Nov-12 13:08:39

Hi tutu100. I'm sorry you're suffering from panic attacks - they are awful and really scary. I will definitely talk to my therapist this week - it will help to talk about some of the details of the dream and how it relates to my own life - and will ask her what she recommends. I tried lying still and doing deep breathing last night but it didn't really help - I fell asleep again and was straight back to the dream. It was so horrible. I'm going through a really tough period in therapy where I'm feeling a lot of things that I haven't allowed myself to feel for years and I was very tearful yesterday afternoon so was a bit all over the place anyway.

I'm already worrying about having the same dream tonight!

tutu100 Mon 05-Nov-12 17:51:46

Are you on any medictaion. I ask because when I was on Citalopram I had the weirdest most real feeling dreams ever. It would regularly freak me out because sometimes I'd wake up in the morning and not be sure if what I'd dreamt about was real or not. Had some really horrible dreams that involved DP having an affair, or leaving me and telling me he hated me.

The breathing thing has taken me a long time to get to work. Literally months to be really effective, but as I say just having something else to focus on was probably what really helped intially.

Do you have dc's? Are you worried about disturbing them if you have a nightmare? Would you feel any better if you could stay with someone whilst your DP is away? I do believe in facing your fears, but sometimes it is not the right time to do so. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate anyway without worrying about your dreams whilst your DP is away. It might be worth you seeing your GP to see if they could prescribe you anything temporarily. I know some tranquilisers will knock you out so deeply you don't really have a chance to dream, but obviously this might not be appropriate for you if you have dc's you need to be alert for.

The other thing I've been doing for me when I am very anxious and on edge and think I may be about to loose it completely is listening to a self hypnosis CD my SIL lent me. Again it's not always successful and quite often I loose focus and have to pull myself back into listening to it, but there is something I find pretty relaxing and reassuring about the speakers voice. Maybe something like that would be worth a try?

Lottapianos Mon 05-Nov-12 19:00:11

Hi tutu100, I was given a prescription for ADs (seroxat) a month ago but decided not to take them. I don't feel that ADs are the way forward for me right now. I don't even like taking paracetamol and I feel I need to deal with my issues through therapy rather than medicating myself. I know they work well for some people, just not for me right now. Also reluctant to take sleeping pills etc because I'm worried about side effects.

No DCS, so it will just be me in the flat next week. I may leave the radio on low all night and maybe leave a light on too. I'm hoping I don't have the same dreams tonight - I feel a bit calmer than I did earlier.

Thanks so much for listening smile

tutu100 Mon 05-Nov-12 20:31:53

You are welcome smile. I understand about the tablets bit. I refused to take them for years, when I did eventually take them they did help me, but I think that was only at that point IYSWIM. I think if you can do it without drugs then obviously that is better, because you know you have done it all by yourself - and therefore you will have developed the skills to cope on your own IYSWIM.

Lots of us with mental health problems are up late/in the early hours because we can't/don'twant to sleep. So if you have a particularly bad night maybe you could post on here. I've had a lot of lovely support from people at odd hours of the night.

Take Care.

MooncupGoddess Mon 05-Nov-12 21:56:10

It's probably your subconscious dealing with things, which is good, but not much comfort in the middle of the night!

I have nightmares and I find the best thing is to switch the overhead light on and wake up properly, then maybe read for a bit/listen to the radio before trying to go to sleep again. Then you're much less likely to be dragged back into the nightmare again.

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