Intense dreams may be a predictor of exacerbated compulsions the next day for people who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Angry dreams intensified OCD symptoms
Researchers at Hong Kong Shue Yan University looked at the relationship between dreams and reality for almost 600 people who had been diagnosed with OCD. They found that some kinds of dreams were precursors to intensified compulsions the next day.
That was especially true for dreams which were filled with feelings of anger, guilt and shame. Additionally, dreams with supernatural themes, the ability to control others or have superpowers also increased symptoms of OCD.
Feelings linger when awake and trigger compulsions
It may be that these dreams have a lasting emotional impact causing a person to try to cleanse him- or herself through control-behaviors upon waking. Feeling angry may prompt a person to try to remove the negative feelings once awake. The anxiety associated with the dream may lead to increased OCD symptoms.
Imagination of youth may influence future paranoia
Researchers also point out that many obsessions and compulsions begin during childhood. It is during this time and through adolescence that the level of imagination is at its highest. Creative, magical play acting and fantasy writing is at its peak.
Calvin Kai-Ching Yu, one of the study authors, stated that people with OCD grow up and become unable to distinguish between magical thinking and reality, prompting feelings of paranoia and other heightened anxiety.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted or repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas and behaviors which become compulsions. Often the compulsions are acted out repeatedly in order to relieve the anxiety. Relief may happen temporarily; however, stopping the compulsion will also cause anxiety, making the cycle impossible to break without help.
Source: Medical Daily, Hong Kong Shue Yan University