Medication Relief for Nightmares Associated With PTSD
For those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nightmares can be a reign of terror, disturbing one's sleep and pushing one into a downward spiral, suicidal ideation, and fear of sleeping.
PTSD nightmares are so vivid, it's as though the actual experience is happening in the here and now. According to the National Center for PTSD, the nightmares may be a reliving of the trauma or have similar elements to the trauma. What adds to this is that those who have them are helpless and powerless to stop them while they are happening.
I have an acquaintance who is a veteran with PTSD and clinical depression. Several years ago, he was in a VA mental health unit for his disorder. His roommate was a Viet Nam vet who had a wicked case of PTSD. When they went to bed at night, soon after this unfortunate gentleman went to sleep, he began tossing and turning and thrashing around. He started mumbling in a fearful way, this escalated into yelling and screaming, pretending he was shooting and actually got out of bed, still in the nightmare, and reliving his war traumas. He would slug and beat things and show intense terror, then aggression. You can imagine my friend was quite frightened to have this roommate, yet at the same time, he felt great sympathy and empathy for him. It is an extreme example of how torturous and vivid the nightmares can be.
Flashbacks occur while one is awake. During a flashback, the person is reliving the trauma. Dr. Frank Orchberg explains flashbacks this way, "The flashback is a traumatic memory that takes place while you're awake and that has the sensation and the feeling that it's happening now. You don't have a time sense with a flashback...The difference between a flashback and a hallucination is that the flashback is the recreation of something that actually happened.