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Response to Recurring Nightmare

  • anonymous Asks ...

    Would like more information on getting therapy for serious recurring nightmare. I have had a recurring nightmare for years where I am hunted and chased by a man with a white mask. I can’t see his face but I know his skin is all peeled away so he is like a monster. I don’t know how I know this because I can’t see it but I do. It’s always the same but in different circumstances. I try to get away and then he gets closer and I have a chance to get away but then I freeze and I can’t move and he comes closer and then I wake up in absolute terror. Have no idea what this dream means. I don’t know what has changed in my life because I normally get a nightmare about once a month but now I get them once a week or even more often. It is hard to get back to sleep after a nightmare and it leaves me feeling upset and tired all day so it is really affecting me at work beyond the fact that they are horrible at the time. I want to address this problem. First question is – do I have nightmare disorder or just recurring nightmares? Second question: What type of therapist should I look for and what type of therapy has the best success ratio for people with nightmares? I am in Brooklyn. Third question: I am also confused about trying Prazosin. Is this for me even if I don’t have PTSD? Should I try medications at the same time as therapy or should I try therapy before medications and then only go to medications if therapy does not work?

  • Christine McDonald Says ...
    Christine McDonald

    Hello there. I know it must be very frightening for you to have the same dream repeatedly.    Dreams are often open to many interpretations.  Its best to try to look at this dream and think about what it is reflecting in your life?  Often dreams where we are being chased means that there is something in our lives that we are avoiding.  I am not an expert in sleep disorders but from the symptoms you mentioned (feeling upset, hard to get back to sleep, tired all day and interfering with your daily life) you do meet some of the criteria.  It would be best to get an in person evaluation to get a proper diagnosis. 

    I am not aware of therapists who specializes in nightmares. There could be some underlying anxiety and stress in your life that could be addressed with  therapy. It is always best to consider having medication and therapy in conjunction to get the best result.  You may want to consider going to a Psychiatrist who can assist with medications to best help you.  They can really evaluate you to see if you meet the criteria for a diagnosis and if you need medication. Sometimes therapy can help people to overcome nightmares.  If you have insurance, contact them for a list of referrals or ask your primary physician.

    Other ideas maybe to confront your attacker in your dream and ask him, "why are you chasing me?"  Many people don't know they are dreaming but before you go to bed tell yourself this is what you want to do if you have the dream again.  You also may want to draw a picture of the dream as it currently happens and then draw another one to show a better outcome, like you become safe in the end.

    I hope this helps!

    Chris McDonald, MS, LPCA, NCC

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