Nightmares Therapy - Sleep Laboratory And Co

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Nightmares Therapy - Sleep Laboratory And Co
Nightmares Therapy - Sleep Laboratory And Co
Video: Nightmares Therapy - Sleep Laboratory And Co
Video: Your Night in the Sleep Laboratory 2023, February

Nightmares: Diagnosis and Treatment

Nightmares require treatment if they occur once a week or more often. Help is needed, especially if it is impossible to fall asleep or is almost impossible for fear of bad dreams. Above all, treatment approaches from behavioral and trauma therapy can help to deal with the nocturnal horror scenarios…


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  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • Diagnosis: sleep laboratory & Co.
  • Aid & therapy options
  • What you can do yourself
  • Whom can I ask?
  • Who pays the costs?

Diagnosis: sleep laboratory & Co

At the beginning of the diagnosis of stressful nightmares, there is a detailed anamnesis, e.g. with a psychotherapist. If someone reports psychological distress due to nightmares, it is important to find out whether there are underlying organic or mental illnesses. Medicines should also be considered, as well as any drug or alcohol consumption or withdrawal. This is why different professional groups work together in diagnosis and treatment, e.g. psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

If the symptoms are easy to understand and the anamnesis provides sufficient information or if nightmares rarely occur, no examination in the sleep laboratory is necessary. Interestingly, fewer nightmares are recorded in sleep laboratories than there actually seem to be. A connection with the changed environment is a possible cause. It is very difficult to study nightmares in sleep laboratory conditions.

Aid & therapy options

One possibility to make nightmares more bearable or to bring about their reduction is psychotherapy, for example, especially with approaches of behavioral and trauma therapy. Physical or medicinal causes should be clarified or treated by a doctor. The approaches from behavior therapy begin with relaxation exercises, during which a confrontation with the nightmare in the waking state is gradually possible. The best studied method is the so-called Imagery Rehearsal Treatment. In this case, the dream event is written down or recorded. Then a new dream ending is written or the picture is changed in such a way that the fear factor is reduced. The dream content, which is no longer frightening, is "practiced" for about five to ten minutes once a day for two weeks. The dreaming determine the changed dream scenes themselves - they know their dreams best. The therapist supports, accompanies and motivates. Treating children's nightmares obviously requires an age-appropriate approach - especially through painting pictures.

So-called lucid dreaming can also be used in psychotherapeutic work(Lucid dreams) come into play. With this the dreaming is aware that he is dreaming and he can purposefully intervene in the dream while he is asleep (e.g. change the dream action). This can be very helpful, especially with nightmares, if instead of the repetitive torture a good ending can be brought about. However, lucid dreaming should only be learned and accompanied in severe nightmares under professional guidance. Lucid dreaming is currently “booming” on the book market - as is the case with courses. When selecting any literature on this topic or a seminar offer, it is important to pay attention to the quality, seriousness and training of the author or the seminar leader. In the case of existing psychological complaints, professional help (e.g.with a psychotherapist). Keeping a dream diary also helps to reflect on the nightly horrors.

Nightmares can also be treated with medication, although this does not seem to be effective. Prazosin (antihypertensive agent), topiramate (anti-epileptic) and atenolol (beta blocker) are used. Prazosin has proven its worth especially in dreams that start out from post-traumatic stress disorders. Neuroleptics (antipsychotic drugs) can also alleviate nightmares - they improve the quality of sleep. However, the treatment of nightmares with medication is only indicated in more pronounced cases and must be carried out under medical guidance and control.

What you can do yourself

The DGSM describes in its guide “Nightmares. What can I do about it?”An easy-to-use technique for dealing with nightmares. However, this requires a certain amount of self-reflection, and if there is no success after a short time, support is required (e.g. in the context of psychotherapy). It is often easier to fathom the dream event together with a professional counterpart. The exclusion of organic or medicinal causes is also not possible without medical help.

Whom can I ask?

If you are suffering from nightmares, the first thing you should contact a psychotherapist is a psychologist or a psychiatrist. An outpatient clinic for sleep medicine can also be visited. In addition, the Austrian Society for Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research provides information about sleep medicine facilities.

Who pays the costs?

The costs for the medical examination and treatment are normally covered by social insurance. For more information, see Costs and Deductibles.

A full assumption of costs for psychotherapy is possible in own or contractually bound institutions of the health insurance carriers as well as in institutions that are subsidized by the public purse. In these cases, there is the option of paying a deductible. Otherwise, you have the option of applying for a subsidy from the health insurance company if you are undergoing psychotherapy with a resident psychotherapist. If this is approved, the health insurance provider will reimburse you for part of the fee paid to the psychotherapist. However, only in the presence of a disease-related disorder is a cost assumption or participation possible.

You can find further information on "Psychotherapy on sickness certificate", cost subsidies and addresses of resident psychotherapists under Services.

The clinical-psychological diagnosis is a service provided by social insurance. Treatment or advice from resident clinical psychologists, on the other hand, must be paid for privately. There is no reimbursement of costs or grants from the health insurance provider. Treatments and counseling in health or social care facilities or in another publicly financed area (e.g. family counseling centers) can in some cases be used free of charge or at low cost.

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