27 posts tagged “treatments”

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.

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“It gives me a source of hope”: Gloria’s 9+ years of tracking Parkinson’s disease and making connections on PatientsLikeMe

Posted May 24th, 2017 by

Member Gloria (sunshine221) has been here almost since the start. The Parkinson’s Disease (PD) community on PatientsLikeMe launched in 2007, and Gloria joined in 2008. We recently caught up with her about her early days with PD, how she has used PatientsLikeMe through the years and what she’s up to now.

Early days with PD and finding PatientsLikeMe

Gloria had been dealing with walking problems for four years, and was initially diagnosed with spinal stenosis. After having surgery for that, she was diagnosed with PD. She had to shift gears, in terms of finding support online.

“Another web board that I was using was great for the spinal stenosis but their Parkinson’s section was inactive,” she says.


“I liked PatientsLikeMe’s tracking sections and how it matched with what the doctors were asking.”


Gloria notes that HIPAA laws made it harder for doctors to connect patients with each other, so meeting people with PD online (and in in-person support groups) was key.

“PatientsLikeMe lets me share with people of similar age and illness progression, and when I might be feeling discouraged it gives me a source of hope,” she says.

Using PatientsLikeMe through the years

Early on, Gloria turned to the website for members’ drug evaluations (noting some frustration over the delay in being able to track Rytary XR – but that is possible now). Over time, she has used the site for tracking her own condition and helping others who’ve joined the community.

“I often look back at the historical data – sometimes it’s frustrating, other times encouraging,” she says. “I mostly look at my own data but if I’m trying to answer another poster’s question, I might look at their data to see what else might be happening with them.”

She has used her data to help people offline, too, including at her support groups. The wife of a local retired dentist with PD needed more information about the condition.

“So I gathered literature from my file and brought it up to her yesterday,” Gloria says. “This just shows that people from all backgrounds need education and support.”

Meanwhile, Gloria has continued to make strong friendships through the forums.


“The regular posters come to feel like family.”


Gloria says she has met up with fellow PatientsLikeMe members at the World Parkinson Congress in Montreal (2013) and Portland, Oregon (2016).

What’s she up to these days?

“It’s been over 10 years that I’ve had Parkinson’s,” Gloria says. “Looking back, I’ve been lucky that the progression has been slow.”

Gloria and her husband recently retired but continue to do some consulting work. They divide their time between their home in upstate New York, a winter home in Florida and a family retreat in the Catskill Mountains. She travels, exercises, maintains a personal blog, and even exhibits her work in art shows (top photo).

“My mantra is ‘use it or lose it,’” she says. In addition to encouraging others with PD to exercise and stay active, she also recommends: using a movement specialist, keeping legal documents (will, power of attorney, and healthcare proxy) in order, and educating adult children about the condition and its possible long-term progression.

Gloria fears her condition will get worse and her grandkids could be afraid of her PD (because she witnessed this with an aunt who had ALS), but she remains hopeful.

What brings her the most joy? “Spending time with friends and family, and watching my 2-year-old granddaughter learn – and hoping that there will be more grandchildren to come in the next few years.”

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