People who have endured traumatic experiences often complain of recurrent nightmares. The good news is that this is normal and it is the brain’s way of trying to make sense of what happened. The bad news is it can invoke painful emotions such as fear, anger, and depression and can lead to insomnia.
Nightmares often unmask subconscious thoughts surrounding the traumatic event. It can be helpful to write down nightmares so that you can identify themes in order to help you process the pain when you are awake. Some have difficulty putting the nightmare into words and choose instead to paint or draw a representation of the dream. The key is finding ways to bring into the light (conscious) things that surface during the night.
Talking with a therapist is especially helpful for people with PTSD. It enables you to process the painful memories with a safe person who can help you to reframe the event so that it will cease to torment you in the present.
If you or someone you love have been through a traumatic experience and suffer from nightmares, I encourage you to find a therapist trained in trauma to help you. You don’t have to continue to allow the pain of the past to permeate the present. Healing is possible.