What is causing my brother’s nightmares?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From the U.S.: I have a 10 year-old little brother. When he was 7, he got a fever, then one day he just woke up and screamed at my mother like he was seeing a monster or ghost regardless my mother tried to tell him that who she is. He cried then it lasted for 5 minutes, then he was back to normal. He said that he saw some weird and scary woman tried to take him away. That situation repeated one more time a few months later.

Now he is 10. Yesterday he coughed and said he got a headache. At night, he was sleep-talking. He talked like a completely different person and called someone name. We woke him up and told him everything that he said. He didn’t know anything that just happened as well as that person. So I want to know if it is a psychological disorder that my family needs to pay attention for. If it is, how can we deal with it?

A: You’re a wonderful sister to be so concerned. You have reason to be. Your brother may need a doctor, not a psychologist. It’s possible that he has an undiagnosed seizure disorder that was somehow connected to that fever. Please ask your parents to take him for a complete physical check-up with his pediatrician. The doctor may refer him to a neurologist to make sure there isn’t something going on in his brain. Only after he is cleared medically, should you consider a mental health evaluation. I realize that this may be scary, but it’s important to get a good diagnosis so that whatever treatment is needed can begin.

I wish all of you well.

Dr. Marie




Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). What is causing my brother’s nightmares?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 3, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/13/what-is-causing-my-brothers-nightmares/

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