Researcher have found that there is a relationship between frequent unpleasant nightmares and suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts.
The study, the first to report a link between sleep problems and suicidal behaviors, revealed that this relationship is partially mediated by a multi-step pathway via defeat, entrapment and hopelessness.
Nightmares may act as a stressor in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to multiple analyses.
Donna Littlewood, principal investigator from the University of Manchester in UK, said that PTSD increases the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and “nightmares may be an important treatment target to reduce suicide risk.”
According to researchers, specific types of negative cognitive thoughts – defeat, entrapment and hopelessness – may be trigged by nightmares, reinforcing suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
“This study emphasises the importance of specifically assessing and targeting nightmares within those individuals experiencing PTSD. In addition, monitoring and targeting levels of negative cognitive appraisals such as defeat, entrapment, and hopelessness, may reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviours,” Littlewood said.