Severe nightmares linked to elevated suicidal symptoms

June 9th, 2009 - 6:22 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 9 (ANI): Nightmares may be an acute warning sign that a person has elevated suicidal symptoms, according to a new study.

During the study, severe nightmares were found to be independently associated with elevated suicidal symptoms after accounting for the influence of depression, whereas symptoms of insomnia were not.

The study 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).

Rebecca Bernert, doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Florida State University, said that the 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. 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,” said Bernert.

The study has been presented at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. (ANI)

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