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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 27

of 'Sleepwalking and other parasomnias in children'

Development of disturbing dreams during adolescence and their relation to anxiety symptoms.
Nielsen TA, Laberge L, Paquet J, Tremblay RE, Vitaro F, Montplaisir J
Sleep. 2000 Sep;23(6):727-36.
STUDY OBJECTIVES: This work assesses the prevalence and development of disturbing dreams among adolescents and the association of these dreams with anxiety.
DESIGN: Sex differences in prevalence were analyzed with chi-square analyses. Changes over time were assessed with Wilcoxon tests and cross-tabulation tables. Associations with anxiety and DSM-III-R symptoms were assessed with ANOVA designs.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 610 boys and girls rated their recall of disturbing and normal dreams at both 13 and 16 years of age. Subgroups of subjects were evaluated for anxiety symptoms at age 13 and for DSM-III-R symptoms of separation anxiety (SA), overanxious disorder (OD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) at age 16.
MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: The recall of disturbing dreams was more prevalent for girls than for boys at both ages, and increased over time for girls while it decreased for boys. The recall of normal dreams was also more prevalent for girls at both ages, but this difference could not fully account for the difference in recall of disturbing dreams. Normal dream recall increased from age 13 to 16 for both sexes. The frequent occurrence of disturbing dreams was associated with anxiety at age 13 and with GAD, SA and OD symptoms at age 16 for both sexes. Evidence of more numerous OD symptoms for girls with frequent disturbing dreams suggests that this form of anxiety may partially account for the observed sex difference in disturbing dream prevalence.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings highlight a prevalence of disturbing dreams that is especially marked for adolescent girls. Unlike previous cross-sectional studies, which have found the same sex difference, this longitudinal design also calls attention to within-subjects changes in disturbing dream recall. The results also confirm that the frequent recall of disturbing dreams is associated with pathological symptoms of trait anxiety-apparently even as young as 13 years of age. Further study of disturbing dreams may contribute to understanding of associated pathophysiological factors which, too, vary by sex (e.g., PTSD, insomnia, depression).
Centre d'étude du sommeil, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur, Montréal, Quebec, Canada.