Besides disturbing a good night's sleep, nightmares might be linked to an increased risk of suicide, a new study suggests.
Researchers assessed 82 men and women, ages 18 to 66, who were awaiting an emergency psychiatric evaluation before being admitted to a community mental health hospital. They were asked about their nightmares, insomnia, depression and suicidal tendencies.
The study found that severe nightmares were independently associated with increased suicidal symptoms, even after the researchers accounted for the effects of depression.
Findings could set standard for suicide prevention
"Sleep disturbances, especially nightmares, appear to be an acute warning sign and risk factor for suicide," principal investigator Rebecca Bernert, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Florida State University, said.
"Given that poor sleep is amenable to treatment, and less stigmatised than depression and suicide, our findings could impact standardised suicide risk assessment and prevention efforts," she said.
Sleep complaints are among the top 10 warning signs of suicide, according to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. – (HealthDay News, June 2009)
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