Last Updated on August 7, 2018
A nightmare is a type of dream that typically cause us to wake up with feelings of fear and anxiety. While nightmares can be very scary to experience, they are often a very common and natural thing to have.
What Does it Mean if You Have a Nightmare?
If you are having nightmares or types of bad dreams that make you feel scared, sad or anxious, it’s important to try and understand what the dream might be about. Often times, just understanding the meaning of the dream can help you feel less afraid.
Here are some things it might mean when you have a bad dream:
You are Afraid of Something
In most cases, dreams are a way to show us our true feelings about a situation. Sometimes when we dream of something bad happening, it is simply a way of our minds trying to help us understand our true feelings and emotions about a situation.
Our fears can be anything – from being afraid of changes to being afraid of creatures like snakes and spiders. You might be afraid of losing your job, or have fears of something happening to a loved one. You could also be afraid of things like going on a trip or even having to do something in life you would rather avoid.
Most nightmares are simply a way to understand your fears and anxieties more closely. We can’t avoid feelings of fear or anxiety in life – but often times trying to understand them and learning ways to effectively cope with fear can help make these feelings much more manageable.
Something is Bothering You From the Past
Another reason for nightmares can be due to past events in our life. Sometimes our dreams replay old memories. If you’ve ever had a nightmare where you are back in school or working an old job, this can sometimes signify unresolved feelings from your past.
You Are Coping with Trauma & Grief
Occasionally nightmares can be related to traumatic events in our lives. If you were in a bad accident or were the victim of a violent act for example, it’s not uncommon to see signs of these past events in dreams.
Grief and Loss can also trigger nightmares. If someone close to you has died or you have experienced another type of loss in your life, you may have a lot of mixed feelings – anger, sadness, uncertainty and anxious feelings.
In these cases, it can be helpful to work with a professional experienced in trauma recovery and grief counseling.
Physical Reasons & Causes
Sometimes our nightmares can be due to physical reasons. For example, illness or injury can sometimes cause bad dreams. Even certain medications and herbal supplements may be known to cause vivid dreams as a side effect.
If you are having nightmares that are not related to stress or seem to be recurring and getting worse, it can sometimes be helpful to talk to a doctor to rule out any potential for underlying physical causes.
Common Nightmare Dream Symbols and Their Meanings
Most of the time, the best thing you can do is learn how to interpret your dreams and understand what they might mean. It is completely possible to stop and prevent nightmares – part of doing this however does mean you will need to understand the causes for the bad dreams.
Here are some of the common symbols and themes that you might notice in a nightmare. Looking up the meanings for the objects, people, and events in your dream can often help you in understanding more what the dream might be about.
Scary Creatures & Animals
Often times we may have dreams of events that are frightening. Drowning in water, falling down stairs, being trapped and more. These things can often be symbolic for what we might feel about a situation. Learning to understand what these events might mean can help us with knowing what a nightmare means relating to our life.
Change and Transformation
Often times we will have nightmares as a result of sudden changes. Many dreams about death and dying are symbolic for change. Dreaming about someone being killed can often be a dream for wanting to change an aspect of your personality or stopping a behavior.
Learning how to interpret our dreams – both the good and the bad – can be very helpful in our lives. There are many benefits to dream interpretation – we can use dreams to better understand ourselves, our relationships, our careers, and other aspects in our life.
Do you have any questions about what it might mean to have nightmares? Share your thoughts and experiences with bad dreams in the comments section below.