If you scream and flail in your sleep for a few seconds to a few minutes, it’s highly likely that you suffer from night terrors. One thing’s for sure, it’s an undesired occurrence that not only negatively affects you but also the people around you.
While anyone can suffer from night terrors, there are some people who are more prone to developing them. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, you are vulnerable to experiencing night terrors.
PTSD and Night Terrors
Approximately 96% of people with PTSD experience terrifying nightmares that are so vivid that they seem real. Unlike bad dreams, night terrors have physical manifestations such as thrashing, flailing, screaming, and even sleepwalking. Night terrors should be addressed early on because they can put you in serious danger. Sleeping beside someone who suffers from PTSD-induced night terrors can also cause emotional distress.
Night terrors come in episodes, and in a sleep terror episode, you may:
- Start with a scream
- Sweat profusely and breathe heavily
- Wake up frightened and wide-eyed
- Have a racing pulse
- Experiencing facial flushing and dilated pupils
- Kick, flail, and thrash
- Run around the house
- Have difficulty waking
- Cry or be inconsolable
- Turn aggressive when restrained
- Have no memory of the night terror episode
Any of the above behaviors are not normal and should not be shrugged off as if it were just a nightmare. Night terrors is considered a serious condition.
Treating PTSD-Induced Night Terrors
It’s important that you see a psychiatrist who specializes in treating PTSD-induced sleep disorders such as night terrors. At this point in your life, you need all the support you can get to work through your PTSD. Be open about it to your family, friends, and of course, your psychiatrist.
Treatment for PTSD-induced night terrors usually begins with making lifestyle changes such as:
- Getting adequate sleep
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol
- Healthy eating
- Keeping stress levels in check, such as with breathing exercises
- Exercising every day
- Doing yoga
- Making your sleep environment safe
When lifestyle changes fail to resolve your night terrors, your psychiatrist may prescribe you with medication such as benzodiazepines and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). But before a resorting to medication, a psychiatrist would first help you work through any anxiety – in this case, PTSD – before prescribing medication. Psychiatrists may also employ hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, or relaxation therapy to help patients with PTSD-induced night terrors.
You may also be advised to undergo a sleep study to rule out other potential causes of your night terrors. You may have an underlying medical condition that requires treatment, too, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
Psychiatric Help in Connecticut
Dr. Mark Stracks of Psy-Visions delivers the highest quality care for his patients suffering from PTSD-induced night terrors. He diagnoses and treats a wide range of conditions and disorders, including sleep disorders. His style is to spend time listening to you and talking with you, which is very crucial to determining what you need to do together to help you start feeling better.
Dr. Stracks wants you to live a happy life, the kind you deserve. He will work with you to find an effective solution, even if you don’t like to take medication.
Feel free to reach out to Psy-Visions at (203) 405-1745 or you may request an appointment now.