150 posts in the category “Mood Conditions”

PTSD Nightmares: Why they’re happening and what you can do

Posted January 5th, 2018 by

More than 1,600 members of the PTSD community on have reported experiencing severe nightmares, and there are dozens of forum threads tagged with topic. So, we took a deeper dive into PTSD nightmares and some of the research-backed approaches you can try to help manage them.

PTSD nightmares

How common are nightmares after trauma?

The quick answer: Very common.

  • According to one study, 71% to 96% of people with PTSD experience nightmares. And the number is even higher for those also living with another mental health condition like panic disorder.
  • At least 50% of people with PTSD suffer from nightmares that incorporate elements or contain exact replications of a traumatic event (these are called replicative nightmares).
  • An additional 20-25% experience post-traumatic nightmares that don’t exactly replay the trauma memory, but are symbolically related to the traumatic event.

Why do PTSD nightmares happen?

Scientists have been studying dreams for years, but they still don’t fully understand how or why we dream.

Matthew Walker, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, has one theory. Walker found that during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the chemistry of the brain actually changes. Levels of norepinephrine — a kind of adrenaline — drop out completely. REM sleep is the only time of day when this happens. In people not living with PTSD, REM sleep is kind of like therapy; it’s an adrenaline-free environment where the brain can process its memories while stripping away the emotional edges.

Walker’s theory suggests that in people with PTSD, REM sleep is broken. The adrenaline doesn’t go away like it’s supposed to. The brain can’t process tough memories, so it just cycles through them, again and again. This theory is being put to the test: The VA is currently running several clinical trials on prazosin, a drug that lowers sensitivity to adrenaline. Check out this page to see if there’s a trial in your area.

Treatments for PTSD nightmares

  • Imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) – This approach helps people change how their nightmare ends by reimagining it while they are awake. The idea is that by changing the storyline of the dream to something not scary, your nightmare becomes less upsetting and occurs less often.
  • Prazosin – Mentioned above, prazosin is currently in clinical trials to evaluate its effectiveness for treating PTSD nightmares. In the few trials that have been conducted, results have been positive. In one 15- week study involving 67 active duty soldiers with PTSD, prazosin was found to improve trauma-related nightmares and sleep quality and reduce PTSD symptoms. See what PatientsLikeMe members have said about taking prazosin for nightmares.

Here are 5 common treatments members of the PatientsLikeMe PTSD community have tried in order to manage insomnia :

Interested in finding out more about what other people living with PTSD are trying in order to manage their condition? Join PatientsLikeMe and become part of a community of others like you.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


9 mental health podcasts worth listening to

Posted December 20th, 2017 by

Podcasts are an easy (and usually free) way to stay on top of what’s new across a wide variety of topics — they’re kind of like internet radio on demand, and usually broken up into episodes that you can download on your computer, device or phone.

Below, we rounded up 9 podcasts focused on mental health that are worth checking out. While podcasts can act as complements to your mental health care plan, they’re not intended to be a substitute for therapy or medication.

 

Mental Illness Happy Hour

 

The New York Times described this podcast as a “a safe place in which he [the host] and his guests talk about their fears, addictions and traumatic childhoods.” This is a weekly podcast that features interviews with people from all walks of life and explores mental illness, trauma, addiction and negative thinking.

 

The Psych Central Show

 

This weekly podcast takes an in-depth look at topics related to psychology and mental health. Hosts Gabe Howard and Vincent M. Wales discuss everything from online counseling and the toll of texting to dealing with narcissistic coworkers and more.

 

The Hilarious World of Depression

 

This podcast aims to tackle the topic of depression with humor. Hosted by veteran radio host John Moe, the show features a variety of guests, like author John Green and comedian Russell Brand, who discuss their experience dealing with depression — while adding in a few laughs.

 

Anxiety Slayer

 

This anxiety-relief podcast has been downloaded more than 4 million times. It features anxiety release exercises and actionable tools to help listeners “slay” their anxiety. Along with anxiety relief tips, co-hosts Shann Vander Leek and Ananga Sivyer also discuss topics like unwelcome thoughts, life-altering transitions, triggers and more.

 

The Anxiety Guy

 

Hosted by former professional tennis player Dennis Simsek, this podcast discusses life with stress and anxiety. Simsek, who’s had first-hand experience living with anxiety, shares what he’s learned and offers various options that listeners can explore to help manage their mental health.

 

Mentally Yours

 

Co-hosts Ellen Scott and Yvette Caster explore some of the weird thoughts we have by chatting to a mystery guest each week. They cover a range of topics across a variety of mental health conditions, and their candid discussions make for interesting listening.

 

The Struggle Bus

 

“The Struggle Bus is an advice show about mental health, self-care, and just getting through the damn day.” Co-hosts Katherine Heller and Sally Tamarkin answer listener-submitted questions about friends, family, work, mental health, love and just about everything in between.

 

The One You Feed

 

This podcast is hosted by two friends who say their show is “about how other people keep themselves moving in the right direction – how they feed their good wolf.” On the show, they cover topics like the effects of consumer culture, self-criticism and addiction.

 

The Dark Place

 

Host Joel Kutz describes his podcast as a “shame-free space where people talk about their struggles, difficult memories and what it’s like to live with mental illness.” Guests, sometimes listeners, share their experiences with mental illness and what they do to manage.

Have you listened to any podcasts that we missed here? Share your favorites in the comments.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.