NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, January 15, 2018

How to Overcome Anxiety Dreams

In prior articles, I've addressed anxiety in its many different forms (see my articles: What is the Difference Between Fear and Anxiety?).  In this article, I'm discussing anxiety dreams and how to cope with them.

How to Overcome Anxiety Dreams

What Are Anxiety Dreams?
Anxiety dreams often involve issues around performance at school or at work, being unprepared for a big event, discovering that you're not wearing clothes in public, and other similar themes.

Anxiety dreams often occur when you're under stress or you've been avoiding a particular situation.  The dreams aren't necessarily about the exact situation that you're stressed out about.

Anxiety Dreams About a Situation You're Avoiding
For instance, if you've been avoiding doing your taxes, you might have a dream that you're back in high school, even though you've been out of high school for many years, and you discover that you're unprepared for a test.  Or, you're about to address an auditorium full of people and as you're standing at the podium, you realize that you forgot to put on your pants. You feel powerless.

How to Overcome Anxiety Dreams

The anxiety dream signals to you that there's something you need to take care of that you've been avoiding.  Your unconscious mind is sending you a message that you need to do something to handle the situation.

Anxiety Dreams About a Stressful Situation
You might also be under a lot of stress about a situation that your fear and the fear spills over into your dreams.

For instance, if you have a project at work where you're feeling in over your head, you might have a dream about waking up late for work and then having problems getting in.  When you get on the train to go to work, its going the wrong way or you get confused about which train to take.

Anxiety Dreams About Unresolved Emotional Problems
Unresolved emotional issues can result in anxiety dreams, especially if these issues continue to get triggered in the present.

For instance, if you have unresolved grief about the loss of your mother, you might have anxiety dreams where your mother shows up in your dream, but she remains far away from you.  No matter what you do to get her attention or to get closer to her, there's some obstacle that gets in your way, and you feel guilty that you're unable to reach her (see my article: Coping With the Loss of a Loved One: Common Reactions).

Another example of having anxiety dreams about unresolved emotional problems might involved unresolved trauma related to emotional abuse that you experienced when you were a child.  You might have a dream where you're trying to get help, but you suddenly can't speak no matter how hard you try.  The more you try to tell the other person that you're being abused, the more confusing it is because you have no voice.

Tips That Can Help You to Overcome Anxiety Dreams
  • Write Down Your Dreams:  Have a pad and pen close to the bed and write down your dreams as soon as you wake up.  Don't rely on your memory to remember the dream later because chances are good that you'll forget your dream.
  • Notice Any Patterns in Your Dreams: When you're able to look at the dreams that you've written down, you can see if there are any patterns to your dreams.  Are you have recurring dreams?
  • Take Action on Issues You're Avoiding or Stressed Out About: If you've been avoiding dealing with a particular problem and you're having anxiety dreams, your unconscious mind is probably sending you a signal in your dreams that you need to take action.  If you can begin taking positive steps to resolve the problem, you're probably going to feel less anxious and the anxiety dreams might stop.

Getting Help in Therapy
If the self help tips above don't help you, you would probably benefit from getting help in therapy to deal with unresolved issues that you're unable to resolve on your own (see The Benefits of Psychotherapy).

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to discover the underlying issues that cause you to have anxiety dreams and also help you to work through these unresolved problems (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

Recurring anxiety dreams can be frustrating and frightening.  Many people who have recurring anxiety dreams develop sleep problems because they're afraid to go to sleep and experience another anxiety dream.

Rather than continuing to suffer on your own, get help from a licensed mental health professional so you can deal with your anxiety and have a more peaceful life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article:  The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

I have helped many clients to overcome problems with anxiety, including anxiety dreams related to current stressors or unresolved trauma.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.