Sleep terror disorder is also known as night terrors. Sleep terror is characterized by the following symptoms that a professional looks for when making a diagnosis for this condition:
- Recurrent episodes of abrupt awakening from sleep, usually occurring during the first third of the major sleep episode and beginning with a panicky scream.
- Intense fear and signs of autonomic arousal, such as tachycardia, rapid breathing, and sweating, during each episode.
- Relative unresponsiveness to efforts of others to comfort the person during the episode.
- No detailed dream is recalled and there is amnesia for the episode.
- The episodes cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
- The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.
Note: this disorder has been subsumed under Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Arousal Disorders in the updated DSM-5. See updated criteria Here.
Psych Central. (2014). Sleep Terror Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 4, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sleep-terror-symptoms/
Symptom criteria summarized from:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Apr 2014
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