If you have an anxiety disorder, chances are you're well-acquainted with the fact that anxiety can invade every part of your life, whether you're awake or not. But even if you don't have anxiety, you've probably experienced an anxiety dream. Anxiety dreams can come in many shapes and sizes, from full-blown nightmares, to things that aren't as terrifying, but that certainly make you feel uncomfortable, unsettled, and anxious. If you do have anxiety, you want to know the weird dreams that people with anxiety have in common and what they mean so that maybe you can begin to make some sense of what your own dreams might be telling you. And if you don't have anxiety, you still might want to know more about anxiety dreams because, as Dr. Carly Snyder, M.D., a perinatal and reproductive psychiatrist/women's mental health psychiatrist, tells Romper, you don't have to have an anxiety disorder to have an anxiety dream — pretty much everyone has them.
Just because you've had a similar dream yourself before doesn't necessarily mean that the exact interpretation is also true for you, but knowing what your subconscious could be telling you just might help you understand your anxiety — or your situation — a little bit better. Snyder says that in order to get to the bottom of your anxiety, you likely need to look at the big picture, not just what you can remember from one dream.
"Sleep is imperative, like, imperative," Snyder says. "If you don’t get enough sleep, you will feel anxious and your mood will be down and there are so many negative outcomes as a result of exhaustion, so if you find that you are having a lot of anxiety dreams and it’s really negatively impacting your ability to function during the day and your overall amount of sleep you’re getting, find a therapist, talk it out. You don’t always have to work on it either by yourself or with your significant other in the middle of the night. Sometimes the best approach is to find a specialist who can really help you to figure out the root cause and then get your sleep back on track and then your anxiety will likely improve on its own, hopefully." If these dreams are causing problems in your life, it might be time to talk to someone about them and get to the bottom of what's really going on.