How Dreams Can Be a Diagnostic Tool for Mental Health

Nuzhat Jahan, a certified life coach of over 11 years of experience and a business lawyer, assists people in better understanding their ambitions. Nuzhat, a law student at the University of Auckland, was born in Fiji and currently lives in Dubai and Mumbai, making her a global citizen. Her passion for guiding people towards their ambitions inspired her to pursue life coaching. She has devoted over a decade to studying dreams and how they might assist people to gain answers to their vivid dreams as well as healing from trauma. She also delivers talks on dream interpretation and research analysis.

When I entered this space of researching dreams from a holistic approach. Such as incorporating psychological, sociological, cultural, and religious perspectives, I didn’t see then how dreams can be a helpful indicator of mental health issues.
After I published my book on dreams, Lahara ‘We are One’, people from around the world started reaching out to me to discuss their dreams. I started formulating a case study of dreams. Around the same period, I was dealing with clients suffering from eating disorders, which is an element of mental health.

What I discovered was that for people who were going through mental health issues, most of their dreams were depressive. Weird creepy crawlies, dark spaces, and seeing their phobias. The dream space is an indicator of one’s reality. Even though people can try their best to sweep it under the carpet, what are hidden surfaces in dreams.

The conscious part of the mind is only the tip of the iceberg. Where our lives’ answers lie in the subconscious, from which the dreams surface. Like a heart rate, sleep is also a zig-zag pattern. We go into a deep sleep and come up to a level called REM, which stands for Repetitive Eye Movement. This is where we dream and when someone wakes up from a nightmare, they are jolted out of REM sleep. Hence, the memory of that dream is vivid.
People ask me, what about people who don’t dream? Everyone dreams, it is most likely, after the REM stage, the person goes back into a deep sleep. Hence, they do not recall their dreams.

Usually, people who are going through a transition or a stressful period of their lives, have very active minds. They are thinking too much and can start having paranoid dreams. Another form is called sleep paralysis. This is when the dreamer wants to wake up but feels paralyzed to open their eyes or move their body. It feels like a weight or an entity is pushing them back or trying to suffocate them. These are hallucinations, whereby the mind starts to play tricks, between sleeping and wakefulness.

Depending on the dreamer’s belief system, there are ways to counter these sleep attacks. Through prayer in a dream state or willpower. I work with my clients individually to counter sleep paralysis. Especially when sleep paralysis becomes recurring and impacts sleep.
Bad dreams mean a bad day. One woke up feeling confused and paranoid. Especially for someone who is suffering from mental health issues, their trauma starts surfacing. They have no choice but to face it, which can be a painful process. However, the correct talk therapy to address these dreams can be a gentler way of addressing the dreamer’s life, without having to ask direct questions about the person’s life. Which most people find uncomfortable speaking about.

In my own personal life, people whom I care about started sharing their dreams with me. I could tell they were emerging into a dangerous category of grandiosity syndrome. For example, a struggling actor starts dreaming of winning the Oscars. As long as the dreamer works toward a goal of manifesting this dream, it is well and good. However, one must deal with dreams with caution, to think you dreamt it, the dream will come true can create delusions.

What I mean by dreams of grandiosity, a teenager suffering from bullying, starts dreaming he will be a big superstar one day. He stops focusing on his studies, thinking he can become famous without going through school. That is a delusion. Making life decisions fueled by dreams of ego can mislead people. These dreams also trigger signs of mental health issues emerging, such as augmented reality as a coping mechanism.

I was once dealing with a client who was very successful. A young sportsman, who had earned his money, and was living a celebrated social life. He would dream of buying the next best car and dating another supermodel, who would be his new interest. His issue was that he felt empty inside, and used to fall into depression. I asked him, what did his dreams tell him about himself? He finally admitted to his narcissistic tendencies and started making life choices that helped centre and ground him. He is now living a more fulfilled life and has since then entered a healthy committed relationship with a person who balances him. With my clients suffering from eating disorders, I started having more positive dreams. Some of them completed high school and ended up going to Universities. I love hearing from them, about how dreams led them to the path of dealing with mental health issues. Dreams can be diagnostic tools for mental health issues, and dreams can heal too.

The authored article is written by Nuzhat Jahan (Dream Interpreter & Author) and shared with Prittle Prattle News exclusively. 
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