Depression and anxiety dreams
This article will look at specific dreams from people who are depressed. But, first it is perhaps best to look at the dreams of depressed people generally. Modern psychologists have started to view dreams in a new way. It has been known for a long time that depressed people dream much more often than those who are not depressed. Time after time depressed people report how they wake up tired and exhausted. That they have spent the whole night dreaming. That they wake up more depressed than they went to sleep.
Nightmares at one time were thought of in a positive light. Those such as Freud argued that depression can be traced back to things that happen in childhood. In confronting our anxieties we can start to deal with the source of our illness.
Yet its more likely that many bad dreams simply reinforce the dreamers state of mind. Talking about traumas from the past simply fuel the fire. Deeply depressed people can simply wallow in their own anxiety.
It has been noticed that victims of trauma can be those who have the most developed imaginations. They allow their worries to get out of control.
Just how accurate is this modern view of depression? Yes depressed people certainly dream more. But if you stop them dreaming will this cure them? Thats not likely to be the case. Their dreams merely play out the waking anxieties. The heart of the problem is that depressed people get into a cycle. They simply cannot break out of their problems. They simply go round in circles feeling resentful. Therapy may allow them to hopefully view their situations from a new and fresh perspective.
In many ways it is pointless to study the dreams of depressed people as a separate group. But this article brings together dreams from people who have openly stated that they were very depressed at the time or were suffering from deep trauma or depression.
Dreams are by their nature metaphors for your life. All metaphors will tend to be exaggerations from the truth. So depression dreams will not differ that much from those people who have much milder forms of depression - those who are simply bored or fed up. Both will choose extreme metaphors to express their feelings.
Having said that - here is a selection of dreams from people who were severely depressed, paranoid or traumatised.
DEPRESSED DREAM I am on a bridge which is known for people jumping off committing suicide. I am without hope and feeling paralysed. I slowly edge down the path. There seems nowhere left to go.
THE REALITY The dreamer had felt seriously depressed over a long period of time. The dreamer mentioned that he had felt extremely depressed and on the point of suicide. Clearly the dream captures this. In the dream he does not jump but is simply edging towards suicide. It shows that his is the direction he is heading.
PARANOID DREAM - There is a man pointing at me. He is moving about frantically and is pointing right in my face.
THE REALITY Recently the dreamer had been very depressed. The day before he was also very paranoid. He had walked into town and was very nervous walking along. He felt people were looking at him. The dream emphasises that feeling that he is being targeted and looked at. This resulted in an extreme anxiety attack.
THE DREAM - I was in a building with gangsters. I suddenly realised that I was in danger so I started to shoot the gangsters. It was kill or be killed. I managed to kill them all.
THE REALITY The dreamer was prone to depression. She tended to lack trust in people. She had recently become more withdrawn and paranoid. She was not willing to trust anyone. The world of the gangster is a sordid one where you can trust no one. The dreamers own life had become like this and she was unable to trust anyone.
THE DREAM - I am then in some swamp area. There is a slug moving around me. A bee comes near me but I avoid it. I am in some long room. It appears to have lots of people. There is Terry Marsh there. He is dressed in some very odd clothes. He has a jumper on and a weird hat. I am then in some car in the back seat. There are some TVs there. There are three of them(reminds me of an old and out of shape Elvis Presley who watched a bank of TV's).
THE REALITY The dreamer had been sat at home for too long. He had been watching TV and just not doing anything and felt depressed. The symbols of the dream caught this mood:Elvis getting old and out of shape watching a bank of TVs; Terry Marsh a play on words linking to swamp like territory and with that a mood stuck in the mud. The weird clothes was symbolic of how the dreamer saw himself - worrying that he looked weird. All this showed how low and isolated the dreamer felt.
INTRUDER DREAM - I am in in my home. Suddenly the people are within it. They are intruding right into it. There seems to be a partition within the house and the intruders are in this part and have every right to be there.
THE REALITY The dreamer had been very ill. He had the opportunity to move into sheltered housing with a warden. He was worried that his independence would go. Obviously psychiatric help can be very intrusive. If you are taken into psychiatric hospital this is obviously a very intrusive act. A patient has to deal with their own depressive thoughts along with a sense of trauma at their lives being taken over. This dreamer had lived life independently and now felt he may have to give up that independence.
DREAM I was with my best friend from school(I haven't seen him for many years). I am pleased that he has returned. I keep enthusiastically talking to him. I am asking him what his music tastes are now. He doesn't answer.
THE REALITY The dreamer had had a very hard life and had recently sought psychiatric help. He was now starting to respond to treatment. He woke up feeling thankful of the help he was receiving and felt he had come to a turning point. He felt more able to talk openly about his problems. What struck him about the friend in the dream was that he never spoke when he asked a question. This reminded him of his therapist who never really engaged in conversation. She merely asked questions. The dream shows that the dreamer was trusting in the process. His therapist had effectively become his best friend.
THE DREAM I dreamed about a primary school teacher. She had a rapport with her children. She managed to make them eat up "all their food" so as to make them healthy and strong. Then in the school he was playing some sort of game. The game involved handling a snake. I knew that this snake was not too dangerous as you could tell by looking at it. At the back of my mind I felt it could be dangerous but still I was holding it.
THE REALITY The dreamer was receiving therapy to help overcome strong phobias and paranoia. He was very scared in many social situations. The day before he saw his therapist and immediately after leaving he set about a task which he had been putting off. He had been encouraged by his therapist and had realised that he was starting to overcome his phobias. The snake represented his ability to handle difficult and highly phobic situations. The snake was dangerous(like the challenges he had set himself) but was not THAT dangerous. His goals were achievable. The teacher, of course represents the dreamers therapist who was encouraging him.
CONCLUSIONS The dreams of mentally ill people compared to those not suffering are not substantially different. It is not helpful to study the dreams of the depressed. Suicide often appears as a common symbol in dreams. Most of those are highly symbolic. Suicide often appears when a dreamer simply wants to give up in despair. Yet dreams do not say if the dreamer has given up generally or if they have merely given up on something very specific (eg "I simply cannot do maths - I have totally given up").
Mental illness is not something that you either have or do not have. It is more like a sliding scale. People can be depressed in very mild ways. Their dreams will be remarkably similar to those who are deeply depressed and in need of treatment. In the same way all people have mild paranoia's which result in remarkably similar dreams to a deeply paranoic person.
If you are severely mentally ill then this can affect your life in many ways. It may involve intrusive questioning and hospitalization. Expect dreams to link to the loss of independence which serious mental illness can result in.
Expect dreams at crucial moments. Changes in the severity of the illness will result in dreams. A dream notes noticeable improvements and setbacks in the dreamers health. Dreams will also show how the dreamer is dealing with and interacting with their treatment. If they are thinking negatively about the treatment. If they are enthusiastic about help and embracing the possibility of change.
Interpreting dreams does not really help you. So do not try to cure mental health conditions by studying your dreams. Dreams can easily be misinterpreted. They can be used to get patients talking about themselves. Many psychologists ask a dreamer what their dreams mean. They are not interesting in the dreams themselves they are simply trying to get a patient to open up about their feelings.
COLLECTION OF DREAMS : The following link features every dream in this collection which features mental illness in any way. If the dreamer has been suffering from severe or mild depression, trauma or paranoia.
NEXT DAY DREAMS : A collection of next day dreams. This site contains hundreds of dreams. All of the 'nexct day' dreams have been gathereed together in one page. Study this type of dream type. Next day dreams - CLICK HERE
NIGHTMARE DREAMS : Sometimes we feel the urge to shock ourselves in dreams. To read more Disturbing nightmares - CLICK HERE
DREAM GUIDE : This website is based upon hundreds of real dreams. An experienced dream researcher has especially designed a dream guide full of questions to help you determine what has triggered your dream. To read more A dream guide - discover what has triggered your dream - CLICK HERE
REHEARSAL DREAMS : Often a dream will feature you doing something that you really want to do. These are sometimes called fantasy dreams but really they are about your motivations. They show you really want to do something. To read more Rehearsal and fantasy dreams - CLICK HERE
CONTACT : Do you have a dream which you feel links to depression to add to the dream bank. If so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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