Significant link between nightmares, suicidal behavior

Posted on March 21, 2016

Photo: flickr

A new study is the first to report that the relationship between nightmares and suicidal behaviors is partially mediated by a multi-step pathway via defeat, entrapment and hopelessness.

Results show that suicidal thoughts, plans or attempts were present in 62 percent of participants who experienced nightmares and only 20 percent of those without nightmares. Multiple analyses suggest that nightmares may act as a stressor in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The nightmares may trigger specific types of negative cognitive thoughts -- such as defeat, entrapment and hopelessness -- which reinforce suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The pathways between nightmares and suicidal behaviors appear to operate independent of comorbid insomnia and depression.

This study was conducted under the supervision of Simon D. Kyle, PhD, of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

The authors suggest there are additional pathways underpinning the relationship between nightmares and suicide that should be identified through further research.

Category(s):Sleep Disorders

Source material from American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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