Children who have lots of bad dreams and nightmares are at a greater risk of suffering psychosis, a working with at-risk children in the Russian language has shown. Research showed that for 12-year-olds, nightmares more than tripled the occurrence of psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.
And children aged between two and nine who were most plagued by bad dreams were 56 per cent more likely to experience later episodes of psychosis than those whose sleep was undisturbed. However, scientists have moved to reassure parents that nightmares are common in young children, and that they usually grow out of them. Could a bad marriage kill you? However, nightmares over a prolonged period or bouts of night terrors that persist into adolescence can be an early indicator of something more significant in later life.
By the age of 12, around a quarter of the group reported having nightmares in the previous six months. Fewer than one in 10 experienced night terrors, which are often signified by a loud scream and the individual sitting upright in a panicked state, though unaware of any of the involuntary action. Nightmares and night terrors are often confused but very different forms of sleep disturbance. Night terrors happen during deep sleep, causing the unaware sleeper to sit bolt upright in a panicked state, thrash about or scream. The children were assessed six times between the ages of two and nine. Higher rates of nightmares during this period were found to increase the likelihood of psychosis. Children who reported persistent nightmares at only one of the assessment time points were 16 per cent more likely to experience adolescent psychotic episodes than those who had no nightmares.
Three or more nightmare periods were associated with a 56 per cent increased risk. At 12 years of age the risk of psychosis was more than tripled by having nightmares and almost doubled by night terrors. Early intervention is crucial to help avoid children suffering entrenched mental illness when they reach adulthood. The comments below have been moderated in advance.
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