Hey everyone , this is my 4th research round with this question “Why do we dream?” In my last research round, I looked into different sleep disorders and how they affect our dreams and sleep. So for this research round, I wanted to do something somewhat similar so I decided to look into different mental illnesses and what they are and then how they affect our dreams .



Image result for depression brain

Depression(major depressive disorder) is a mental illness that negatively affects how you think and process things, the way you act, and way you feel.  It causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in things that you like. (1,2)

Some symptoms include…

-A depressed mood during the day, usually the worst in the mornings.(1)

-Lack of energy or feeling tired throughout the day (1)

-A feeling of guilt or worthlessness majority of the time (1)

-Difficulty focusing, decision making, and remembering things (1)

-Either problems falling asleep and staying asleep or sleeping too much (1)

-Little pleasure in many activities during the day(1)

-Often thinks about death or suicide (1)

-Feeling of restlessness or slowed down(1)

-Overeating or not much appetite

-Weight gain or loss(1)


-Physical pain such as body aches, headaches, cramps or digestive problems (1)

-Feelings that are sad, anxious or empty (1)

The DSM-5, a manual doctors use to diagnose mental disorders, you have depression if you have 5 or more of these symptoms at least 2 weeks. (1)

Depression causes

-Abuse(such as physical, emotional and sexual(2)

-Certain medications (2)

-Conflict (such as personal conflicts with people that are close to you(2)

-Death or loss(2)

-Genetics(Family history can make people more susceptible to depression(2)

-Substance abuse(2)

-Personal/social issues such as a breakup,exclusion, etc. (2)

How does it affect our dreams

Many depressed people end up waking up very tired after having a night of bad dreams. They have a much higher amount of stress hormones in their bloodstream. Depressed people also tend to dream up to three times as much as a non depressed person. (3,4) But why does that happen? As I said, they do dream a lot more, therefore their brain is more active during sleep and isn’t resting so they miss out on restorative deep sleep. The reason they dream a lot more is because they tend to get a lot more stressed and worry a lot. (4)

As I have mentioned in previous research rounds, dreaming is sometimes a way for the brain to cleverly disguise your stress by some imagery in your dreams. A lot of their dreams are nightmares.  Dreaming is a very distinct part of sleep, it is known as paradoxical sleep because it is not the part of sleep that gives rest. So the reason why they’d be more tired is since they dream a lot more, and dreaming is during paradoxical sleep so they are not getting as much rest. During rapid eye movement(REM) sleep, there is more stress hormones such as adrenaline in our system. So all that being said, depressed people basically dream a lot more because they tend to worry more and get stressed easier, so dreaming a lot more helps the brain “release” all the stress and worries. (3)


Image result for schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder where people interpret reality differently and abnormally. It could result in anything from hallucinations, delusions and very disordered behavior and thinking that affects the daily life. (6)

Some symptoms include…

(in adults)



-Unorganized thoughts and speech(6)

-Abnormal behavior(6)

-Loss of interest easily while doing everyday activities(6)

(In teenagers)

-Trouble sleeping(6)

-Drop of academic performance(6)

-Lack of motivation(6)

-Isolating themselves (6)

-Irritable mood and mood swings(6)

-In teenagers, they are less likely to have delusions but more likely to have visual hallucinations.(6)

How does it affect our dreams

People with schizophrenia have a lot more hostile and aggressive dreams, many being nightmares. A lot of the hostility is directed towards the dreamer. Their dreams also seem to have more strangers but not many people who are regularly in their life, and a lot of the time, the dreamer isn’t the main character. This often leads to a combination of hostility from strangers and anxious dreams which ultimately can cause a lot of delusions. Schizophrenic people find their dreams to be considered normal although in many cases it is not. (5)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)

Image result for ptsd

PTSD is a mental condition that’s triggered by a traumatic and terrifying event, either if you experienced it or witnessed it. People who have PTSD often have trouble coping and adjusting but with good care and time, the symptoms do lessen and get better. However, symptoms could start within one month of the event or even years later.(7)

Some symptoms include...



-Much anxiety(7)

-Uncontrollable thoughts about the event(7,9)

-Avoidance in thinking and talking about the event(7,9)

-Avoiding things such as places or objects that remind you about the event(7,9)

-Severe reactions if encountered with something that reminds you of the event(7)


-No hope for the future(7)

-Memory problems such as remembering important details about the event. (7)

-Feeling isolated from friends and family, and difficulty maintaining your relationships with them

- Lack of participation and interest in things once enjoyable(7)

-Feeling emotionally numb and trouble experiencing happy emotions(7)

-Being easily startled(7)

-Always looking out for danger(7)

-Trouble sleeping and concentrating(7)

-Mood swings(7,9)

-A lot of guilt and feeling overwhelmed(7)

How does it affect our dreams

People with PTSD often have difficulty falling asleep and a lot of sweating and fast heartbeats during sleep. They tend to have a lot of nightmares, usually having to do with the event. A lot of their dreams may be reoccuring. (8,9)People with PTSD also tend to face insomnia.  They also sometimes sleep differently depending on the event. For an example, if you are afraid of being attacked in your sleep for say, you might sleep lighter and wake up to the smallest sounds such as a creak. All that anxiety could lead to have worse insomnia. As already mentioned, they can experience a lot of nightmares and flashbacks that consist of reexperiencing the event. Dreamers usually remember quite clearly what happened in the nightmare after they wake up. It could result to sleepwalking, sleep talking and various actions during sleep that could potentially be harmful. (9)



1. https://www.webmd.com/depressi...detecting-depression



4. https://youtu.be/6i-F8O24uas






Pictures(in order in which they are in my research)





Thanks for reading!


Original Post

Hey Rhea! 

I really enjoyed reading this extra round of research because it opened my eye how a variety of different mental illnesses can affect the way we dream. In fact, what really surprised me is the fact that that people with depression tend to dream more because dreaming tends to "calm" and ease with the stress of the person. I also really enjoyed how you organized your format in a easy and readable manner! A suggestion for a future inquiry topic could be focused on just lucid dreams, and how they affect us humans! 

Here's a possible source: 


Great job, once again!

Hello Rhea,

Excellent last round before your metamorphosis! This round was very informative on just how certain mental problems affect sleep, and what their symptoms are. I liked how you had a list of what the symptoms are, and then afterwards how this might affect your sleep, especially when you drew connections like in the case of PTSD and how it might make someone’s insomnia worse cause it might cause the too be wake at the sound of a creek due to a fear that it might actually be something coming to attack them, I’m presuming this would be very common in the case of veteran’s. I also found it interesting how that extra dreaming in the case of depression is actually hurtful as it lessens the amount of restorative sleep, I found it especially interesting as dream sleep or REM sleep is usually considered to be neutral but in this case,  it actually becomes bad for the person. I’m excited to see what conclusion you come to, in response to your question and just what ties into it.

Hey Rhea,

Great research round! It was very interesting to see that mental illness can negatively affect out ability to sleep. As Bogdan mentioned, I love how you organized your round of research with a little bit about the illness and how it affects sleeping afterwards because not everyone knows about each illness. Perhaps continuing with the topic of dreams could be fun such as do dreams come true? Here are some links on if dreams come true and I look forward to reading your next cycle. 



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