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Frequent Nightmares - Symptoms of Mental Health Problems


Many of us tend to disregard our nightmares as something unexplainable and therefore not needing our attention.

However, if you find your sleep to be frequently troubled, this could be a warning sign of more serious problems, related to mental health, according a new study by psychologists from the University in Turku, Finland. Their finds reveal that nightmares need to be looked at as an early warning of mental health issues.

"The risk isn't that great. Most individuals suffering from nightmares don't end up committing suicide but the message needs to be clear - frequent nightmares should be taken seriously and help should be sought, " says author of the study Nils Sandman.

The findings were made after analysis of all Finnish mental health studies done on the population every 5 years in the period between 1972 - 2012.

The actual processing of the data was particularly difficult and and done several times over because World War II veterans were included in the studies, which could affect the end results. The researchers found that even though veterans had a lot more nightmares than other people, these did not affect them as bad as they did non-veterans suffering from bad dreams.


Ultimately, researchers were able to conclude that the intensity of nightmares was directly related to an increased risk of suicide. Defined within the scope of the study as intense dreams with a negative emotional tone, frequent nightmares lead to severe mental health disorders and even to worsening physical health.

The study also found something strange. The risk of suicide increased due to nightmares differs in the 2 sexes. Women have said bad dreams more often but it is the men suffering from nightmares that are at a higher risk of suicide.

"Even though there is a wide range of reasons for suicidal behavior, nightmares are one of the risk factors for it. Those who suffer from them often need to see to their mental health immediately, " warns Sandman.