Medication for nightmares

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bluepalm

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Medication for nightmares
« on: May 08, 2021, 10:54:38 AM »
I experience debilitating nightmares several times a week. Over recent months my nightmares have reached back nearly 70 years and focused on my childhood home, now long demolished, and my parents, now long dead.

The sense of exhaustion and misery resulting from a nightmare this week, in which my mother created destructive chaos around me, lasted a couple of days and sent me looking to see if there was any medication that might address this problem. I thought it unlikely because in the past I've assumed that only talking therapy could help address nightmares, through analysing them for insights and understanding.

However, my initial research found that a medication called Prazosin has been used to lessen nightmares. 

See: https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(12)00667-2/fulltext

I intend to ask my GP to consider helping me with my nightmares and would be interested in hearing about the experience of anyone who has taken Prazosin or any other medication prescribed to lessen/subdue/banish nightmares.
With thanks,
bluepalm

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Jazzy

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2021, 03:54:08 PM »
Bluepalm, I'm so sorry that you are suffering with nightmares for so long. I've had years (though not as many as you) of nightmares myself, and it is truly a terrifying and horrible experience.  To me, it is really a fresh re-traumatization, and when it is chronic (every night), it is just * on earth.

I don't have any experience with an alpha blocker like Prazosin. I'm not sure how well it would work. I've only been prescribed sedatives to help me sleep, which have their downsides. For me, sedatives was a "pick the lesser evil" scenario. I hope Prazosin works out well for you though! If not, maybe you could try some sedatives? If nothing else, they do keep the worst of it away, most of the time.

I'm doing a lot better these days overall, and trauma doesn't have nearly the impact on my life which it did, even last year. I haven't had any nightmares in months, but they were the most difficult symptom for me to rid myself of. After all of the work to heal from CPTSD in general (talk and action oriented therapy), my body still didn't know how to sleep properly, because it never learned. It wasn't until I took some really strong sedatives (most didn't work well for me), that I began to sleep well on my own. (I don't recall the name of what I was taking off the top of my head, but I can find it if you would like).

Basically, I took the sedatives day 1, then slept 14-16 hours, woke up for a bit, then went back to bed for the night (day 2) with no sedatives. Day 2, I slept better without taking the sedatives that evening. Then I would repeat the cycle. As my body began to learn how to sleep deeply on its own, I could go for more and more days between taking sedatives. After about a month, my body learned how to sleep, and I haven't taken any since! :)

Hopefully this will help you out in some way. All the best with everything. I hope you find some peace. :)

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bluepalm

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2021, 07:01:36 AM »
Thank you so much Jazzy for your helpful reply. I will mention your experience with using sedatives as well as the option of Prazosin to my GP when I see her next week and see what she thinks. I'll report back on how I go in case it's helpful for others too. Thanks again!

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bluepalm

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2021, 03:55:26 AM »
An update: After discussion with my GP I've decided to keep Prazosin as a potential help if I get as desperate as I felt a couple of weeks ago and, in the meantime, to try therapy with a new counsellor and see if talking and understanding can address the nightmares problem before I turn to medication.

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Jazzy

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2021, 12:11:55 AM »
Thanks for the update Bluepalm! I was wondering about this, but I didn't want to put any pressure on by asking. :)

I hope all goes well with therapy, and I think it's great you have the medication as a backup in case things get out of hand.  :thumbup:

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bluepalm

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2021, 08:15:10 AM »
Thanks very much Jazzy.  :hug:

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bluepalm

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2021, 09:39:22 PM »
Further update: I saw my GP again and, given there's probably going to be a long delay before I get to see the therapist whom she recommends because of his expertise in CPTSD, or he may not be available at all, my GP has prescribed Prazosin. I'm now taking a slowly increasing dosage and hope this will make a difference to the frequency and severity of my nightmares.

I'll report back here once I feel I know whether or not Prazosin has made a difference.

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bluepalm

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2021, 11:00:26 PM »
I'm pleased and relieved to report that, for me, and over the past few weeks, taking Prazosin nightly has made a significant difference to my nightmares. First, the frequency of nightmares has decreased. And when I have dreams that focus on the issues that used to leave me waking in fear and exhaustion (such as my childhood home and parents) I'm finding that the 'edge' has been taken off these dreams. I wake remembering them but I feel calm. I am so grateful to have found this support.

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Jazzy

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2021, 12:20:56 AM »
That's amazing bluepalm! I'm so happy for you. :D

Thank you for the update. I hope it is helpful for others as well.  :thumbup:

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BeeKeeper

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2021, 08:09:49 PM »
bluepalm  :hug:

So glad you posted about this. My medication T and I talked about this very same issue with the very same medication. Passing along what she's told me: This is a blood pressure medication that has been successfully used to decrease "nightmares" and as such this use is considered off-label.

OK.

We're holding that possibility for me. And as I read through I'm thrilled that you are getting a benefit from it. It does make a difference in functioning, and that's what it's all about, at least to me. Having the edge taken off is enough, for now. Thanks for telling us about it and your experience. Now I may forge ahead, instead of hanging back a couple months to "Mull."

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bluepalm

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Re: Medication for nightmares
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2021, 10:20:09 PM »
Hi BeeKeeper,
For me this medication remains something of value and I dearly hope it gives you relief as well if you try it.

I started on 3 mg and now take 4 mg each night - although the effective dosage will, of course, vary from person to person. It definitely still takes the 'edge' off nightmares. So even if the content of some nightmares remains as it was, I do not wake from them in fear, screaming or sweating. It's as if my mind has a more objective view of the story it is telling and allows me to experience it without the immersion of my whole body in experiencing the story.

A therapist once told me that my mind is always trying to help me, not hurt me, so nightmares are ways in which my mind is trying to resolve trauma or understand issues. That explanation rang true to me and gave me a more tolerant view  of what I experience. That tolerance has increased now that the impact on my body has lessened with the Prazosin.

I am grateful to have some of the ongoing trauma removed from my life.