Health & Wellness

When Dreams Cause Anxiety

Do you ever have really anxiety inducing dreams that you can’t seem to shake off, even after you’ve been awake for hours? And even though you know that your reality is nothing like the dream, you can’t help but feel that at any moment, your dream world could spill over into the real world, placing you into an actual living nightmare.

For me, this happens most often when my dreams parallel my real life in some way. Particularly when the dream is pulling from negative experiences in my past, and applying them to my present.


In sleep, my brain is constantly re-living one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had in my life, but with one difference; it’s as if it were happening now.

I hate this dream. It propels me back into chaos, emotional turmoil and fear that I can feel. Sometimes it even makes my body ache, and I wake up with all the sensations, lingering in my body and mind.

It’s been years since this particular life experience, but these dreams still haunt me regularly, and I really just don’t know what to do.

I feel like there must be a part of me that still hasn’t recovered from said experience, but I don’t know what else I can do. I’ve done the work that’s supposed to help, I’ve been to therapy, but somehow, I’m still being affected by this experience.

I don’t think it’s fair to compare experiences and assume that the way one thing affects one person will affect another person the same way. Everyone is different, and we all experience things differently. My particular experience wasn’t anything super traumatic or out there. In fact, it’s probably a pretty common experience that many people face at some point in their lives, to different degrees.

I think that part of what I have to do is accept that I very well could go through this same kind of experience again. Accept that it could happen, and recognize that even if it did, I would be okay.

The question is… How?

I can tell myself that over and over, but that doesn’t necessarily make it true, or make me believe it.

Perhaps I could try imagining what my life would be like if this did happen again. What emotions would it evoke? What chain of events would it set off? What sort of outcome might it lead to? Maybe I just need to finish the dream. Usually, I wake up in the middle, right as I’m going through the brunt of emotions that this experience creates within me. I’m never able to get to the part where I feel okay again. I just get to keep reliving the shitty parts.

Perhaps this would be a good journaling exercise to explore. I think I’ll give it a go.

Has anyone out there had success with any particular methods that are designed to help you recover from traumas/negative experiences? Any advice in the comments would be greatly appreciated!

3 thoughts on “When Dreams Cause Anxiety

    1. I had a really good conversation about nightmares with someone recently and it really helped actually. I’ve since had the same dream, but it didn’t affect me in the same way. I hope yours get better soon too!


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