Childhood Nightmares and Psychiatric Disorders in Adolescents: Are They Really Related?

Childhood Nightmares and Psychiatric Disorders in Adolescents: Are They Really Related?

Written by Elaine Wilson, Posted on , in Section Hero


It is well known that psychiatric disorders often display their first symptoms as children reach adolescence, but what if there were telltale signs earlier on?

Research is beginning to reveal the relationship between mental health issues in troubled teens, and the tendency for them to have had frequent nightmares and night terrors during their early childhood years. Perhaps there is a real connection. Could the presence of frequent nightmares earlier on perpetuate psychiatric disorders in adolescents? Some experts think so. 

Childhood Nightmares and Psychiatric Disorders: Putting Together the Pieces 

No one is more aware of how complex the brain and mental health can be than the residential treatment centers who are helping troubled teens on a regular basis. Much like a puzzle, scientists, researchers, and therapists are continuing to put together the pieces of how growth and development are affected by the events and experiences that occur during childhood – and Elevations RTC has addressed this very issue. 

In a recent article published by the residential treatment center, Elevations RTC connects the possibility that childhood nightmares actually do perpetuate psychiatric disorders in teens, with evidence cited from a University of Warwick study as well as other reputable sources. As a result of their own research, Elevations RTC concluded that there was a “distinct relationship between childhood nightmares and psychiatric disorders in adolescents,” and urged parents of troubled teens who have experience such nightmares to “convey this information to therapists and other health professionals.” 

The Statistics and Research that Support the Connection 

Within that University of Warwick study, it was discovered that the children under 12 years of age who reported having nightmares frequently were more likely to experience some form of psychotic event during adolescence by three and one half times. Additionally, if night terrors were involved, the likelihood further doubled. 

While full-blown psychiatric disorders did not present themselves in each adolescent who admitted to experiencing a psychotic episode, isn’t the possibility of hallucinations, delusions, and trouble with interrupted thoughts enough to want to get help? 

There may be a real connection between nightmares and mental health issues, but it’s also important to consider the cause. Post-traumatic stress disorder is often the originating source of extensively occurring nightmares in children, and according to the American Family Physician “post-traumatic stress disorder and may be associated with other psychiatric illnesses.” 

Getting Help 

If your teen is displaying signs of mental health trouble and they have had frequent nightmares or night terrors as a child, they may need specialized care to help them work through it. The professionals at Elevations RTC are experts in both psychiatric care and academic excellence, so they can provide all the resources your troubled teen needs to get healthy again. Don’t wait, call them today so they can help your teen have a positive outlook for their future.