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Tbag's avatar

Why do I have the same nightmare over and over again?

Asked by Tbag (3325points) April 11th, 2015

This really has been eating me up on the inside. I stopped talking to my close friends about it. I feel like it’s pointless because whatever they end up saying, I will still end up having the same nightmare. I even went to see a therapist about it but that didn’t help too.

Three years back, I had a car accident and till this day, my nightmare involves a vivid flashback of what happened on that night. I don’t have the nightmare everyday, but at least twice a week. It is horrifyingly realistic and very disturbing because I experience that night over and over and again. It fucks up my sleeping patterns and I end up not sleeping the whole night. I was just wondering if anyone has an idea as to why this is happening.

Have you ever had reoccurring nightmares? How did you deal with it?

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6 Answers

janbb's avatar

This sounds like a version of PTSD possibly and perhaps a short course of therapy specifically focussed on dealing with the after effects of the accident and potential PTSD symptoms would help. Maybe the therapist you consulted wasn’t the right one. Look for someone you feel comfortable who is trained in relieving PTSD symptoms.

Obviously I’m not a therapist and can’t diagnose over the internet but I have had trauma in my life.

Silence04's avatar

Agreed about the possibilities of PTSD. One therapist is not the same as the rest, you have to find a good fit just like any other relationship.

kritiper's avatar

You feel guilty about what happened and you are very afraid that it might happen again. You don’t trust yourself enough to let it go. Take a Defensive Driving course and become a better driver. Your improved self confidence in this area will make the dreams cease.

Safie's avatar

Well i’m no doctor, but i do know that unresolved issues can certainly cause recurring nightmares, it’s a sign that something in your waking life you have not dealt with and needs to be addressed. also trauma from your past that you are trying to still deal with can bring on recurring nightmares.the way forward is to interpret what is happening in your dreams and waking life.

David_Achilles's avatar

It’s obviously something unresolved in your life. 3 years is a long time to be having the same nightmare. I’m sorry that you feel you can’t lean on your friends anymore for support.

Have you tried to look inside yourself for the reasons why this doesn’t go away after so long? Are you avoiding confronting something that the accident brought forward in your life? The fear or reality of mortality for example? Are you under a lot of stress in your life currently? Has the accident become a symbol of some sort of insecurity that you have?

I found some relevant info and though I hesitate to offer it, since I’m not a big Dr. Phil fan, I think it’s not such bad advice.

“How to Stop Recurring Nightmares

If you have a recurring nightmare or night terror that is causing you anxiety, Dr. Phil has some advice:
Dreams of any kind usually reflect unfinished business from your life or from just that day. Thoughts and fears that you may suppress while you’re awake reside in your subconscious and can manifest when you’re in a dream state. For example, nightmares may evolve from feelings of inadequacy or of not being worthy.

Nightmares that repeat a traumatic event reflect a normal psychic healing process, and should diminish in frequency and intensity if recovery is progressing.

If you have unfinished emotional business while you’re asleep, you can finish it while you’re awake. Set up a ritual before you go to bed. Things that you can do:

1) Talk about the nightmare with someone. Give it a voice. Describe it fully, scene by scene, what happened and how you felt.
2) Write it out. Write out the whole scenario, including what happens when you wake up, if you sleepwalk, etc.
3) Act it out. Play all the characters involved.
4) Imagine a more pleasant ending. It sounds simple, but getting every neurological loop involved can help finish the business.

If those rituals don’t lessen the nightmares, take a closer look at your internal dialogue. What you tell yourself can have a dramatic influence on your subconscious.
The Association for the Study of Dreams offers additional information:

About five to 10 percent of adults have nightmares once a month or more frequently.
Many people experience nightmares after a traumatic event such as surgery, loss or an accident.
Others experience nightmares when they are undergoing stress in their waking lives, such as a change on the job, pregnancy, moving, financial concerns, etc..”

I do have recurring nightmares but they aren’t so serious. I can sort of laugh at them usually. I spend a lot of time commuting so my dreams often involve trains and boats and not getting to work on time or not being able to get home, being stranded with no idea how to get home.

I am not sure how you are supposed to imagine a more pleasant ending. I mean, it was an accident and it was traumatic for you. I would acknowledge that to yourself. But maybe fiction, an imagined good ending will help you cope? It’s worth a try. They say the brain cannot distinguish from a real and an imagined event. So in the interests of healing it might be worth a try.

JLeslie's avatar

Reoccurring nightmares are fairly common. I used to get them when I had to deal with health issues. It was awful. I was always being chased with someone trying to hurt me. Sometimes I actually was stabbed or shot in my dreams.

The way I would get past them if they didn’t let up on their own after a few weeks was going to therapy. Talking it out in a constructive way helped me not dream about it I guess.

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