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Every person has suffered from nightmares at least once in their lifetime. Nightmare is an unpleasant dream which occurs during the rapid eye movement phase of sleep. Nightmares are known for causing very intense feelings of anxiety, distress, terror and fear and in most cases they actually awaken the sleeper. Nightmares are usually very vivid and frightening, and once they awaken the sleeper, he or she usually remember at least some portions of it.

Night terror

Night terror is somewhat different from nightmares because the sleeper usually does not remember the dream once he or she awakens. Both of these occurrences affect children much more than they affect adults. Nightmares involve a lot less movements and anxiety than night terrors. It is not uncommon for nightmares and night terrors to occur in periods when a person suffers from guilt, depression, turmoil and insecurity. Night terrors are also different from nightmares simply due to the fact that they occur in the so called nondream phase of sleep. They often involve heavy pounding of the heart, waking up screaming and sweating heavily. Those who suffer from night terrors are usually initially unaware of their surroundings and the loved ones who try to comfort them. Sometimes the episode of night terror may cease immediately while in some cases it may last for up to 15 minutes. In most cases, the person does not remember the exact thing that terrified him or her that much. Some cases of night terrors may also be associated with sleepwalking especially in cases of children.

Causes and Risk Factors of Nightmares

There are certain risk factors which can be associated with the occurrence of nightmares. The most common risk factors include heavy drinking, withdrawal from addictive drugs, antidepressants, beta blockers, reserpine and levedopa. The same can be said for appetite suppressants, antihistamines and several types of antibiotics. Nightmares may also be affiliated with various traumatic events and unresolved psychological conflicts.

Treatment of Nightmares

There are individuals who suffer from severe psychological problems which are caused by their bad dreams. Psychotherapy is one of the best and most common ways of treating such problems. There is also the so called desensitization method which involves rehearsing the nightmare and imagining a different ending to it. Rehearsal techniques, desensitization and psychotherapy are all very efficient when it comes to reducing the frequency of nightmare and decreasing the accompanying distress. Sometimes the prescription drugs may be causing all the problems.

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