In a study of 176 adults from 18 to 60 years of age who made an outpatient visit to a mental health clinic at Florida State University, results show a statistically significant link between nightmares and suicidal symptoms, although a causal relationship cannot be established.
Results of the study are published in the September 1 issue of the journal Sleep.
The association is maintained after controlling for depression and sex.
The findings also indicate that this association is somewhat stronger among women than among men. Overall, women show higher average scores for both depression and nightmare symptoms.
“Our study indicates that it may be appropriate to treat nightmares as an equally important clinical risk factor for suicidality,” the authors write.
The study analyzed self-reported measures of insomnia, nightmares, sleep-related breathing problems, depression, and suicidal symptoms.
About 27.8 percent of the study group scored in the clinical range for nightmare symptoms, and roughly 15.3 percent reported at least one previous suicide attempt.
Sleep is the official journal of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.