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Nightmares As Predictor of Suicidal Symptoms

Self-reported nightmares among patients seeking emergency psychiatric evaluation appear to be an excellent forecaster of elevated suicidal symptoms.

Results indicate that severe nightmares were independently associated with elevated suicidal symptoms after accounting for the influence of depression, whereas symptoms of insomnia were not.

These findings suggest that nightmares stand alone as a suicide risk factor.

The sample included 82 men and women between the ages of 18 and 66, who were in a community mental health hospital admissions unit awaiting an emergency psychiatric evaluation. Evaluations determined eligibility for crisis stabilization inpatient admittance.

Patients’ nightmares, insomnia, depression and suicidal tendencies were assessed through several questionnaires, including the Disturbing Dreams and Nightmare Severity Index, Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSS).

According to principal investigator Rebecca Bernert, doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Florida State University, findings of the study emphasize the need for a more thorough assessment of sleep among acutely ill patients, as it may be an important opportunity for intervention.

Sleep disturbances, especially nightmares, appear to be an acute warning sign and risk factor for suicide,” said Bernert.

“Given that poor sleep is amenable to treatment, and less stigmatized than depression and suicide, our findings could impact standardized suicide risk assessment and prevention efforts.”

The study states that sleep complaints are now listed among the top 10 warning signs of suicide by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Nightmares As Predictor of Suicidal Symptoms

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Nightmares As Predictor of Suicidal Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/06/10/nightmares-as-predictor-of-suicidal-symptoms/6421.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.