“Memories Take Us Back, Dreams Take Us Forward.”
It’s currently widely believed by the scientific community that dreams do not carry any meaning or value and that interpretation of dreams is not a part of science, psychology, or medicine. It however does not mean that dreams do not carry any meaning.
Dreams may not necessarily be trying to tell the dreamer any specific thing in particular; dreams may just be a display of what the dreamer thought or thinks when in sleep.
The brain tries to connect different kinds of thoughts and this is what triggers dreaming. Brain connections and memories get created during sleep (here’s how a lack of sleep affects your anxiety). Dreams may be some kind of brain construct of the thoughts into some kind of story that can be understood by the dreamer. The lack of sense in the dreams is the reason why so many of them appear to be weird and random.
A dream’s content can be from the past or present; however, it is more likely for a person to dream about something that he/she experienced, saw, or thought in the recent past, or the dream can be a subjective interpretation of some random event that remained in the subconscious mind.
Depression and anxiety can affect our thought processes (which is why a CBT based approach is so important for recovery), brain functions, and other emotional and physical aspects of our lives. Consequently, depression and anxiety can affect one’s dreams that get triggered by processes as discussed above.
Depression and anxiety can affect your dreams in several ways:
Several thoughts: People with depression and anxiety tend to experience intertwined, random, and worried thoughts (that can lead to depersonalization during the day). Due to this fact, dreams of anxiety sufferers are more likely to enclose a wide variety of subjects as compared to a normal individual. A more diverse range of topics means that an anxiety sufferer is going to recall many more weird and wondrous stories when dreaming.
Chemicals in brain: It is believed that the chemicals in brain, i.e., neurotransmitters also have a part to play in dreams. It is known that anxiety can affect neurotransmitter function. Certain medications that affect the chemistry in the brain have been found to have an effect on dreams as well. In a similar vein, anxiety affects brain chemistry and consequently affects dreaming.
Memory: Generalized anxiety and health anxiety sufferers tend to focus on events and things that normal folks generally disregard. This can affect the way memories get stored. It can be argued that the dreams of anxiety sufferers may not be distinct from normal dreams. However, due to anxiety and associated memory problems, sufferers may increasingly focus on remembering the events in the dream after waking up, thereby making the dreams seem more unique.
“Anxiety sufferers may lay excess stress on their dreams after waking up, while normal focus may just get on with the daily routine.”
Sleep issues: Anxiety is known to cause sleeping problems and sufferers may find it difficult to fall asleep. This means that they may not commonly experience dreaming. However, lack of sleep can make the body and mind excessively exhausted causing the sufferers to experience a deeper sleep when they are finally able to sleep. Subsequently, a more rapid phasing into REM sleep stage increases the chances of more vivid dreams.
Share Your Dreaming Experiences Below In The Comment Section.