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A nightmare refers to an unpleasant dream which is often upsetting and frightening. The causes of nightmares are commonly emotional upsets and anxiety or fear. Depression may cause nightmares. There are certain medications and drugs that may cause nightmares and a very high fever and hyperthyroidism may induce nightmares.

Nightmares typically have common themes, they are: falling, being chased, being inappropriately dressed and being ridiculed, drowning and the death of a loved one. In psychology all nightmares are said to have an underlying mental or emotional cause. For example being chased may indicate a fear of facing certain responsibilities, falling may be said to indicate a feeling of a lack of control of ones life or environment. The details of each dream are used to analyse the dreams in more detail. Recurring nightmares are often indications of a constant fear or anxiety.

Children may have nightmares as a result of separation anxiety, an emotionally unstable home life, abuse, loss and change are also common triggers in children. Nightmares commonly occur after a particularly traumatic event or shock (see emotional shock) and may be a symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

Certain foods are said to cause nightmares if eaten shortly before going to bed, such a cheese, chocolate and stimulants. If you are experiencing recurrent and distressing nightmares that are affecting your sleep and causing emotional upset, then it may be advisable to consult a healthcare practitioner.



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