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Nightmare Disorder

This disorder is typified by repeated awakenings from sleep with detailed recall of frightening dreams. These dreams are typically vivid and quite extended and usually include threats to survival, security, or self-esteem. Often there is a recurrence of the same or similar themes. The dream experience or the sleep disturbance resulting from the awakenings causes significant distress. The major diagnostic criteria is as follows:

The person repeatedly awakens with detailed recall of long, frightening dreams. These usually occur in the second half of the sleep or nap period and concern threats to security, self-esteem or survival.

The person quickly becomes alert and oriented upon awakening.

These experiences (or resulting sleep disturbance) cause clinically important distress or impair work, social or personal functioning.

They don't occur solely during another mental disorder (such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or a delirium).

The symptoms are not directly caused by a general medical condition or substance use, including medications and drugs of abuse.

Associated Features:

History of Dreams often awaking the Sleeper.
More Common in Children than Adults.

Differential Diagnosis: 

Some disorders have similar or even the same symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his/her diagnostic attempt, has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


Over half the cases starts before the age of 10, and in about two-thirds of cases, onset is before age 20. A major stressful life event seems to precede the onset of the disorder. The frequency of episodes is variable both within and among individuals. In many cases three or more nightmares per week are reported. Children frequently outgrow the disorder. If it's onset is in adulthood, the disorder often persists for decades. The disorder is reported to be particularly common in people with frequent physical and mental health problems.


Night terror is similar to nightmares except that nightmares usually occur during REM sleep and include unpleasant or frightening dreams. If recurrent, nightmares and night terror may be associated with psychological disturbances or severe stress, especially in adults. In many cases, comfort and reassurance are the only treatment required.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

Psychotherapy or counseling may be appropriate in some cases

Pharmacotherapy [ See Psychopharmacology Section ] :

Benzodiazepine medications: such as diazepam.
Benadryl elixir (diphenhydramine).


DSM Code

307.47 Nightmare Disorder


Disorder Sheets

Narcolepsy Association UK
Narcolepsy UK
PO Box 13842
EH26 8WX

Tel: +448454500394
Email: Click Here

Web: Click Here
Forum: Click Here

Recommended Book

Banishing Night Terrors and Nightmares - Click Here to View


Nightmare Disorder

Misc Information

Narcolepsy UK Forum: Click Here

Sleep Disorder's