In residential treatment for trauma, the girls that come through our doors have different stories, backgrounds, and experiences. No individual is the same. For many, they’ve been struggling with their trauma for quite some time now because their parents either didn’t notice the signs right off the bat or hoped it was just a phase. One indicator of possible trauma that often gets overlooked is frequent night terrors or nightmares. Night terrors and nightmares usually get written off as normal–because they’re usually are just that: normal. But sometimes they’re a sign of a much deeper issue.
What are night terrors vs nightmares?
“Oh, she must have watched a scary movie.”
“They’re just dreams, they don’t mean anything.”
“She’ll grow out of it.”
While the above statements can all be true when referring to bad dreams, they can also be incredibly wrong when dealing with night terrors and nightmares. I know what you’re thinking, “What’s the difference between nightmares and night terrors?”
Nightmares aren’t rare for youth and it’s not usually a sign of anything being wrong. They happen during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and children usually remember at least part of the scary dream they experienced. To help with nightmares, doctors suggest just being there for comfort when your child wakes. Night terrors are slightly different.
Night terrors don’t happen during REM sleep, which means individuals usually don’t remember the dream. They usually begin a couple of hours into sleep and only last up to 15 minutes–during which a child may seem extremely panicked, wide awake, or even do things like scream, thrash, or sleep walk. After they come down from the episode, most return to normal sleep.
Most of the time, children who experience nightmares and night terrors don’t have serious mental health issues lying beneath the surface–but sometimes they do. When the dreams persist and get to the point of disrupting waking life, that’s when it’s time to consider something may be wrong.
What nightmares or night terrors can mean
In residential treatment for trauma, we sometimes see that trauma manifests itself through dreams–nightmares or night terrors. Being woken by bad dreams multiple times a night or even a week can disrupt a student’s life during the day, making it difficult to focus or stay awake.
Though nightmares and night terrors can be a symptom of trauma, it probably won’t be the only symptom of trauma. Bad dreams can arise when a student is extremely stressed out or even dealing with an anxiety disorder. Other symptoms that may indicate that your child may need residential treatment for trauma include:
- Intense emotions like anger, sadness, anxiety, guilt
- Extreme reactions to minor issues
- Replaying or repetitively thinking about the trauma
- Sleeping patterns disturbed
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Spending large amounts of time alone
- Increased need for independence
- Loss of interest in hobbies, friends, school, etc.
- Feelings of hopelessness or depression
- Issues with focusing, problem-solving, and short-term memory
If you believe your child may be struggling with trauma or other mental health issues, it’s critical to seek out a professional as soon as possible.
Our residential treatment for trauma can help your daughter
Solstice East offers residential treatment for trauma and other issues–specifically for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls are often grappling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. In our residential treatment for trauma, we strive to help students develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.
For more information about our residential treatment for trauma at Solstice East, please contact us at 828-484-9946.