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Depression

Depression and Dreams

02/25/2009

Question:

Hello, I suffer with depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I recently have noticed that my dreams seem to effect my mood for the day. For example, I remember having a dream the other night where I could not find my dog whom I am very close to. In my dream I searched and searched for him and could not find him. I remember waking from the dream feeling very sad and heartbroken, although he was actually sleeping by my side. That day I felt very depressed. All I had to do was look across the room and know my dog was safe and sound, but it was almost like the feelings I felt in that dream I just couldn`t shake. I have read that depression patients tend to dream more than others and I can attest that I sometimes recall bits of four to five dreams a night. Would it make sense that a patient`s depression symptoms could be affected by a dream, even a dream they may not be able to recall? Should the same emotions and feelings you feel subconsciously be the same emotions and feelings you feel consciously while your awake? I know reality from a dream, but it seems sometimes my emotions don`t. I am just wanting your take on this, your input would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Answer:

Depression fragments sleep in several ways, including more dreaming earlier in the night and more frequent awakenings. So we're more likely to remember our dreams when depression disrupts our sleep. The emotional tone of dreams during a depressive episode often reflects the emotional tone of daily life. The persistence of depression in your dreams as well as your waking hours suggests the need for more effective treatment if possible. Sometimes simply correcting the disrupted sleep is sufficient to relieve the depression. Improvements in sleep and depression will make pain management easier too. Talk with your doctor about strategies for improving the management of your sleep and your depression. Good luck.

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Response by:

Lawson  Wulsin, MD Lawson Wulsin, MD
Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, Training Director of the Family Medicine Psychiatry Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati