Treatment

Treatment for nightmares isn't usually necessary. However, treatment may be needed if the nightmares are causing you distress or sleep disturbance and interfering with your daytime functioning.

The cause of the nightmare disorder helps determine treatment. Treatment options may include:

  • Medical treatment. If the nightmares are associated with an underlying medical condition, treatment is aimed at the underlying problem.
  • Stress or anxiety treatment. If a mental health condition, such as stress or anxiety, seems to be contributing to the nightmares, your doctor may suggest stress-reduction techniques, counseling or therapy with a mental health professional.
  • Imagery rehearsal therapy. Often used with people who have nightmares as a result of PTSD, imagery rehearsal therapy involves changing the ending to your remembered nightmare while awake so that it's no longer threatening. You then rehearse the new ending in your mind. This approach may reduce the frequency of nightmares.
  • Medication. Medication is rarely used to treat nightmares. However, medication may be recommended for severe nightmares associated with PTSD.