Friday, March 23, 2012

Depression and Dreams

A common and effective form of intervention for treating depression is CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). More recent work has found that a "lighter" version of CBT is to have people with mild to moderate depression focus on positive things in waking life and to stop avoidance behaviour. That is, people with depression begin to stop socializing and begin living more with their own negative thoughts and feelings. By focusing on positive things, doing things that they previously enjoyed, and actively engaging in mood-enhancing behaviours such as smiling, saying hello to people and not complaining results in an uplifting of mood. How might this information help in terms of dream imagery and dream interpretation for people with mild to moderate depression?

22 comments:

  1. Since dreams reflect the moods and experiences of the dreamer's waking day life, I would assume that a depressed individual would have more negative themes and emotions in their dreams. By using various forms of cognitive behavioural therapy, and altering how the dreamer feels or behaves throughout the day, then it would be expected that a similar change in themes and emotions would occur in their dreams. I think that this information would be useful, because a researcher or therapist could monitor the depressed individual's dreams throughout the process of cognitive behavioural therapy. If the therapist sees a change in the themes or emotions in the patient's dreams, then it is more likely that the CBT is working.

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  2. In terms of dream imagery and dream interpretation for people with mild to moderate depression I feel that CBT while keeping a dream journal could help them determine how difficult situations, depressive thinking patterns, avoidance or inactivity can make their depression worse. It could also help them determine whether or not the CBT is helping their depression by looking at their dream imagery to see if it has evolved into more positive images. I assume by "lighter" CBT is minimal therapist contact so it puts the patient in control in determining their mind state. CBT may help individuals become more educated on their illness as people who have severe depression may have sought help numerous times, compared to those with mild or moderate, therefore receiving more information. Dream journals, such as our assignments this year, have an action plan so it can help with steps to change behaviours, thinking realistically rather than negatively and problem-solving with these issues.

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  3. We expect that the imagery in the dream journals will reflect waking day behaviour, activities and events. So we would expect to see a shift from negative to positive emotions within the dreams.
    The journals will also be usefull, because when negative imagery does re-emerge, using interpretation methods will allow the patients to discover the reasons for negative emotions, thus be able to use CBT in waking day.

    Grace Williamson

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  4. Negative thoughts and feelings in dreams could be an indicator of mild to moderate depression. More severe depression would probably have bland and unemotional dreams but maybe for weaker forms of depression negative thoughts and feelings might still appear in their dreams. If the patient is going through CBT the therapist could use dreams as an indicator if the action plan is working. Maybe start off with small actions like smiling more and not complaining, and see if there is a change in dream emotions. If not the therapist could keep recommending more behaviour changes until they start seeing a difference in dreams.

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  5. This information may help in terms of dream imagery and dream interpretation because, as we know, dreams reflect waking day experiences. Individuals with mild and moderate depression are surrounded with negative emotions and negative behaviours, their depression may be worsened because the emotions and behaviours are reflected within their dreams. Indulging in positive imagery and behaviours would help someone with mild/moderate depression because they will dream about the positive emotions. The dreams may include more people (social support), happier imagery, and participation in activities that they enjoy doing. A dream journal may be supportive in this type of situation because the dreamer can reflect back on their imagery. It is beneficial for them to partake in this so they can see their progress and use problem-solving techniques, while leaving negative emotions behind, and moving toward more positive-focused emotions.

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  6. I agree with the previous posts. I think that the milder forms of CBT that are discussed sound like a similar process to what we are doing with our dream journals. The dream interpretation process that we are going through when we do our journals requires us to look at our dream imagery and how it relates to our waking life, and then we complete our dream summary that requires us to identify steps that we can actively take in waking life to make changes to the life events that have been identified in the interpretation process. I also think that if a person is in the process of CBT and they are consciously trying to think more positively and be more social, these are skills that people with depression would not necessarily find to come easily to them. I would imagine that it would take a great deal of effort for a depressed individual to focus on the positive and force themselves out of their comfort zone. Since so much waking day energy would be used to follow this process I think the dream imagery would reflect this shift in waking day thinking. It would be great to see a dream journal of someone who started tracking dreams during their depression and continued during CBT and look for the image changes. This might be useful to a therapist to identify if the client is getting better, and maybe some of the discoveries made through dream interpretation might help the individual and their therapist to identify sources of negative thinking or trends in their thinking patterns that would not be evident. Maybe imagery in their dreams was more consistent at certain times in their life and the dream journal could be a useful tool to accompany this form of CBT.

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  7. The general thrust of the described interventions seem to be the "B" in CBT, i.e. behavioural. Deliberately engaging in mood-enhancing behaviours will "bring the body" and result in serotonin squirts independent of attitude. It sounds like cognition will change once a bit of neurochemical momentum has been produced. The key here is that it may be much easier to change one's actions versus changing one's mind in the form of a long-held schema.
    This information be helpful to dream interpretation and dream imagery in that dream imagery may still be overly negative at first, since the deliberate behavioural interventions aren't happening during sleep. Knowing this may prevent a client from becoming frustrated and self-blaming for continuing to have negative dreams.
    The dream interpretation could be used as a problem-solving format adjunct to the behavioural intervention.
    This likely wouldn't work as well for more severe depression that has gone beyond the point of responsiveness to CBT. Psychopharmacology, and maybe even ECT would be better methods depending on the severity of organic depression, i.e. suicidal ideation/ gestures.

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  8. As we all know, waking day life is reflected dream imagery, and therefore, this information may help in terms of dream imagery and dream interpretation for people with mild to moderate depression because they would be aware that to look for a change in their normal dreaming patterns. If the dreamer changes their waking day activities, this will change their dream imagery. Such as, if they are socializing more and more, it would make sense that there may be more characters observed in the clients’ dreams. Another indication of positive dream imagery, will allow both the client and clinician to see that the mild CBT is working.

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  9. CBT in people suffering from mild to moderate depression will help to improve general feelings and mood, resulting in a more positive person. These positive experiences and conscious focus on mood-enhancing behaviours will be reflected in their dreams as well. Once they have engaged in positive behaviours, their subconscious mind will begin to sort out these feelings and new perspectives through playing them back in their dream imagery. This will allow the dreamer and therapist to see changes in their waking day actions simply by decoding their dream content (eg. the amount of neg/pos experiences). The CBT in waking life will also prove helpful for changing the dreamer's content in their dreams as well.

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  10. People who are depressed have more negative dream imagery and commonly less people in their dreams. Since they are depressed when interpreting their dreams they often interpret them as negative. If they are focusing on being positive and engaging in mood enhancing behaviours then the imagery should change to reflect this since dreams are directly linked to one’s personal life. There would be more characters in the dreams of the dreamer as they would now be more social and positive. Also they would be more positive in their dream interpretations. This would be helpful because the therapist and dreamer would be able to see if the CBT is working and if the dreamer is becoming less depressed.

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  11. As many of the people above said, our dreams are reflections of out everyday life. So if we are focusing on being social and communicating with people in a positive way this would be directly shown in our dreams. Obviously depressed people who never leave their house and are always thinking of negative thoughts are going to have these same dreams. It can be seen through direct correlation that CBT would affect the waking day life of these individuals and therefore change their dreaming patterns.

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  12. Maighan MackenzieMarch 26, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Dream imagery reflects what is happening in the individual's everyday life. Therefore, if an individual with mild or moderate depression is keeping a dream journal, then the images that would be occurring in their dream life would reflect that. The daily mood of the individual would pass into their dream imagery, and a simple dream interpretation would result in an indication that the individual has depression. Once the CBT took place, then the daily mood of the individual in their waking day life should shift from being depressed to being more happy. Once the therapy has started to be effective, then the dream imagery of the individual would begin to reflect that. The dream imagery would start to show happier, less depressed moods. Keeping a constant dream journal would show the therapist whether the CBT was working or not, because if the dream imagery is not changing, then the daily mood is probably not changing either. The dream imagery will help to show whether the CBT is an effective intervention or not.

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  13. People who are undergoing “mild” cognitive behavioural therapy and are suffering from mild to moderate depression would benefit from using their dreams as a guide throughout their therapy. By keeping a dream journal, and performing dream analyses, they would be able to interpret whether or not the therapy is working. Instead of using avoidance behaviour, their dreams could force them to deal with their underlying issues, since they would have to identify with these themes through dream interpretation. Keeping a record of their dreams would also be useful for seeing personal growth. If a person is following the CBT (smiling, saying hello to people, etc.), but is still engaging in negative thinking, this will be reflected in his or her dreams. In other words, if the person is only following the behavioural part of the therapy, and not focusing on positive things, then the dreams will be helpful in informing the person that he or she needs to change his or her thinking. I would assume that those who suffer from depression would automatically have negative thoughts and feelings, sometimes without even realizing it. The cognitive part of the therapy would probably be the most difficult part. Perhaps the dreams would be useful in showing the individuals how well they are doing, in regards to focusing on positive thoughts. This would be especially useful for the therapist, since he or she would be able to monitor how the patient is progressing.

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  14. The information of a lighter version of CBT being used on patients with mild/moderate depression can affect dream imagery and dream interpretation by how thinking more positively in waking day will lead to more positive dream imagery. If patients have more positive dream imagery, their problem-solving techniques will be more positive for waking day life. Example, if a person is dreaming of eating a lot of food and that reflects their waking day life, they might conclude that they eat as a comfort mechanism. If they begin to dream more positively, they might be able to problem solve that instead of eating when they are stressed, they will replace it with a more healthy stress reliever such as writing or running.
    Clinicians can think of CBT as an option to use along with dream imagery when dealing with depression.
    Tara-Lee Upshall

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  15. Given what we have learned thus far in the course about our waking day thoughts and issues carrying through into our dreams, a patients dreams would most likely reflect their depression. After 'light' CBT therapy, and having the patient focus on more positive things, the patients dreams might begin to change, reflecting their attempts to have a more positive outlook. As a result they may have more positive imagery in their dreams.

    Keeping a dream journal would be effective with patients in therapy because it would allow the patient to track their feelings and emotions to help them get to the root of their problems, and also create a plan of action to help them solve their issues. If an issue returned in the patients dreams, perhaps they could use their journal and attempt one of the interpretation methods to help them try and figure out what is going on.

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  16. People with mild to moderate form of depression become consumed by negative thoughts and emotions. The depression may not be debilitating, but it certainly affects every aspect of their life, including dreaming. Individuals with mild or moderate depression may have dream imagery that is also negative such as death, dull colours, isolation, or whatever reflects the negativity in their waking day life. We know this is true because it is well known that dreams can reflect waking day behaviours, thoughts, and emotions. By changing the thought process from negative to positive, the client will hopefully over time start to change their behaviours to something more positive (thoughts affect behaviour and behaviour affects thoughts). Dream imagery may start to reflect this change. Imagery may consist of dreams with more characters, more conversation, vivid colours, and happier emotions. Individuals with mild forms of depression may find it beneficial when trying the lighter version of CBT to keep a dream journal. This may help the client and clinician to see whether the therapy is genuinely having an effect.

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  17. I would assume that the dream imagery of these individuals would improve and become more positive in both detail and emotions. Since these individuals are altering their waking day life it would be assumed that these changes would appear in their dreams. However, because dreams are usually origined from our deepest emotions we would not know if the CBT would truly impact dream content unless we tracked their dreams. Therefore, I believe that these individuals should keep a dream journal both before and after treatment to see if there are in fact changes in dream content and emotions.

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  18. This information may help an individual with mild to moderate depression in their dream interpretations as it would enable them to have an effective and simple way to work on being more proactive about every day situations that their dream analyses deem to be negative for them. Through a combination of "light" CBT therapy and dream therapy, mild to moderate depressed individuals could uplift their daily moods more effectively. Positive dream imagery would be more prominent in dreams when these attitude changes were implemented, as the dream imagery would reflect the increased waking day mood.

    - Carey-Ann Bette

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  19. since people who are depressed tend to have more negative emotions in their waking life, those negative emotions would carry on into their dreams as well. negative dream imagery has less colour and more conflict. with improving their moods through therapies in their waking life, and thus making them more positive, dreams would have more colour and less conflict. this might allow them to get more insight out of their dreams because the insight wouldn't always lead to something that is making them depressed, thus making them even more depressed in their waking life.

    melissa van grootel

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  20. I think this information about the impact of CBT is useful in relating the continuity hypothesis theory to dream imagery and depression. We already know that people with depression are more likely to have dreams with negative imagery and negative themes, and I would imagine depression related behavior such as avoidance behavior plays a part in this, since in the waking day that person would be spending a great deal of time avoiding everything around them so they could live in their negative thoughts and feelings (a negative waking day experience). These negative ideas in the waking day would thus translate into negative imagery and themes in their dreams, since that was what the person was thinking of all day. As a result, if a person with mild to moderate depression is using CBT while keeping a dream journal, we would hope to see that the focus on positive and mood-enhancing behaviour with an uplifting of mood (thus helping to create a positive waking day experience), while avoiding social isolation, would result in an improvement in dream imagery, and positive dream interpretations. This impact on dream content could then act as an indicator that the CBT is working, since the altering of behavior is changing the depressive thought pattern, which is reflected in the dreams.

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  21. When dealing with a patient in dream therapy, it is very important to know information concerning their past and present. Having an individual who is depressed will reflect in his or her dream imagery. It is crucial to know whether individuals may have depression because this may help the therapist analyze the individual's dream with less difficulty. furthermore, therapist may gain extra insight into someone's dream if they know more information about that specific individual. Depression is a severe personality and mood consequence and will highlight affect the dreams that someone experiences.

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  22. By focusing on positive things in waking life and carrying out positive behaviour, individuals with depression will begin to dream about positive things. When dreams have positive imagery, people are better able to consolidate and deal with their waking day issues. This in turn will result in an improved waking life mood and possible relief of depressive symptoms.

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