Trouble with dreaming

I've just started sertraline after being on 20mg citalopram for two months which seemed to stop working. I've been having vivid dreams which send me into a panic by the time I've woken up and prescribed diazepam to try and make the sleep deeper, however it seemed to make the dreams more frightening. The dreams are flashbacks or particularly traumatic times or images and strengthen the idea that I am an evil or bad person, which is what I convince myself to be when going through the side effects of coming off citalopram/starting sertraline. Overall, I'm pretty scared of sleeping but also quite exhausted, terrified I'm having or am on the cusp of a mental breakdown. The dreams can also be just disturbing thoughts or images that aren't based on memories but on anxieties I've had through the day. Can anyone help me please understand what's going on? I've tried to speak to my mum but it upsets her to know the full extent of the bizarre nature of it all. I'm only 20 and scared I'll give in to suicidal thoughts if I don't get my head straight soon

7 Replies

  • StagAndHare Traumatic times have a habit of keeping us locked down, trapped in negativity. We can change this using our inner strength which is more powerful than what we realise. I, for one found myself ruminating daily over negative times in my life thus keeping me down the never ending well which was dark and lonely. If we change our focus to bright and happy things, the path will become clearer for us and offer us bright avenues to explore.

    These bad situations you have experienced are influencing your ideals of yourself of being bad or evil. You know this is not the case so therefore resist against these and slowly the tables will turn. The negativity wants to keep us there. And for many of us becomes a way of life which turns into the daily norm. It is not a way to live happily.

    For example .. I can't go out today because I am a bad person and I am evil CAN be changed to ... I can go out today because I am a good person and I want to feel happier :)

    These positive changes may feel uncomfortable for a while but with perseverance they will win and change your life for the better. You deserve good things do you not ? Why can you not have them ? Because the negative thoughts have become a way of life for you. The power is within ourselves to change.

  • Your sleep will change too and the nightmares will lessen until they completely eradicate

  • Although light I had a much better nights sleep after finding this website and trying some breathing exercises to distract me when I had negative thoughts :) thank you for your reply also, it feels much better when someone can explain what is happening in my head! X

  • I had very vivid dreams whilst on citalopram - lasted 2 days as it totally freaked me out - weren't unpleasant just scared of losing my grip on reality.

    If it is affecting you then speak to your GP - there are a lot of other drugs out there that could be affective but wouldn't have the same side-effects

    You may find this post useful in dealing with the obsessive thoughts

  • Hi, thanks for your reply. Yes, the first two weeks felt like hell and I was terrified to have to start all over again with sertraline in case they had a similar effect. I think it was the diazepam making the dreams stronger/hallucinations but probably wasn't wise of my dr to give me them the same day as coming off one antidepressant and onto another!

    Pleased I had a better night though, that's one positive for the day :) hope your day is going well xx

  • Hello S. ,you can't stop bad dreams at will or good ones but they must n't scare you off sleeping.

    You could try concentrating on nice thoughts, good things that have happened to you ,like good holidays,places you've visited and enjoyed and doing relaxing breathing exercises before you drop off to sleep. Having a hot chocolate drink before bed might help as well,as like most animals we're usually programmed to sleep when we've got a bit of mild digesting to do.

    The antidepressants you are taking may also be changing your brain chemistry and the dreams will probably either go away, or more likely you won't remember them which is just as good. Waking up more gradually also helps although the only way to really do this is to not have an alarm clock which may not be practicable.

    I never mind dreams good or bad. The good ones I remember are obviously not a problem and the bad ones bring a little excitement into life. After all where else can I fight a T.Rex or a crime syndicate , win,and wake up unharmed at my age?

    Dreaming and reliving the days events is perfectly natural and you should n't let it make you think you're a bad person and it does n't mean you are having or on the edge of a breakdown either.


  • Thank you, this post made me smile and feel a little better about it all. I'm very new to all this and it's quite confusing at times! X

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