Dreams and Depression

There is ample evidence that the dream imagery of individuals suffering from Major Depressive Disorder contains themes of hopelessness, helplessness and despondency. Themes of illness, death and dying are also prevalent.  Also, there may be themes of loss, failure, disappointment and rejection.  In effect, these feelings and dynamics are characteristic of Major Depressive Disorder.  Of course, a definitive diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder requires clinical data to substantiate it.

Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts are frequently associated with Major Depressive Disorder.  There is anecdotal evidence that the dream content of individuals who are clinically depressed and potentially suicidal is different than the dream content of those who are not suicidal.  The dream content of those who are suicidal often contains imagery of violence, death, rage, self-harm, and hopelessness.  I am currently engaged in a study to determine whether or not there is a significant difference in the dream content of those who are depressed and suicidal compared with those who are depressed but not suicidal.  Dream content alone is not sufficient to predict suicidality, but it may be a helpful adjunct to the clinical profile of someone who is seriously depressed.