Reviews of Nightmare Treatment

Treating Nightmares and Insomnia in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Review of Current Evidence
Nappi, C.M., Drummond, P.A., & Hall, J.M.H. (2012)

Emerging evidence supports the notion of disrupted sleep as a core component of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Effective treatments for nighttime PTSD symptoms are critical because sleep disruption may be mechanistically linked to development and maintenance of PTSD and is associated with significant distress, functional impairment, and poor health. This review aimed to describe the state of science with respect to the impact of the latest behavioral and pharmacological interventions on post- traumatic nightmares and insomnia. Published studies that examined evidence for therapeutic effects upon sleep were included. Some behavioral and pharmacological interventions show promise, especially for nightmares, but there is a need for controlled trials that include valid sleep measures and are designed to identify treatment mechanisms. Our ability to treat PTSD-related sleep disturbances may be improved by moving away from considering sleep symptoms in isolation and instead conducting inte- grative studies that examine sequential or combined behavioral and/or pharmacological treatments targeting both the daytime and nighttime aspects of PTSD. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’.

Neuropharmacology, 62(2), 576-585.

Replication and Expansion of ‘Best Practice Guide for the Treatment of Nightmare Disorder in Adults
Cranston, C.C., Davis, J.L., Rhudy, J.L., & Favorite, T.K. (2011)

The August 2010 issue of Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (Vol. 6, No. 4) included an article suggesting treatment recom- mendations for adult nightmare disorder. Although we appreciate the work by the authors, we were left with three basic concerns about the methodology utilized and results found. First, works providing evidence for some of the treatments were not reported in the original article. Second, search methodology in the original article was not used consistently at updated time points. Third, the original article only utilized results obtained from PubMed and did not consider other databases. The cur- rent study sought to replicate the methodology and compare findings as well as expand by equalizing search methodology across updated time points. The present study expands the original efforts further by conducting article searches again on PsycINFO. Consequent changes to evidence levels and recommendations are discussed.

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 7(5), 549-553.

Best Practice Guide for the Treatment of Nightmare Disorder in Adults
Aurora, R.N., Zak, R.S., Auerbach, S.H., et al. (2010)

Summary of Recommendations: Prazosin is recommended for treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-associated nightmares. Level A Image Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) is recommended for treatment of nightmare disorder. Level A Systematic Desensitization and Progressive Deep Muscle Relaxation training are suggested for treatment of idiopathic nightmares. Level B Venlafaxine is not suggested for treatment of PTSD-associat- ed nightmares. Level B Clonidine may be considered for treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares. Level C The following medications may be considered for treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares, but the data are low grade and sparse: trazodone, atypical antipsychotic medications, topi- ramate, low dose cortisol, fluvoxamine, triazolam and nitraz- epam, phenelzine, gabapentin, cyproheptadine, and tricyclic antidepressants. Nefazodone is not recommended as first line therapy for nightmare disorder because of the increased risk of hepatotoxicity. Level C The following behavioral therapies may be considered for treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares based on low-grade evidence: Exposure, Relaxation, and Rescripting Therapy (ERRT); Sleep Dynamic Therapy; Hypnosis; Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR); and the Testimony Method. Level C The following behavioral therapies may be considered for treatment of nightmare disorder based on low-grade evidence: Lucid Dreaming Therapy and Self-Exposure Therapy. Level C No recommendation is made regarding clonazepam and indi- vidual psychotherapy because of sparse data.

Journal of Clinincal Sleep Medicine, 6(4), 389-401.

A Systematic Review of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Nightmares: Toward a Well-Established Treatment
Lancee, J., Spoormaker, V.I., Krakow, B., van den Bout, J. (2008)

The aim of this review is to evaluate the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on nightmare frequency and to determine which kind of CBT is the most effective treatment. A systematic literature search was carried out in PsychInfo and PubMed articles published on or before May 1, 2008. The inclusion criteria were: nightmare treatment study, use of nonpharmacological treatment, not a qualitative case study, randomized-controlled trial (RCT). After selection, 12 peer-reviewed studies about 9 RCTs remained (2 follow-up studies and one displaying preliminary results). Several interventions have been reviewed including, recording one’s nightmares, relaxation, exposure, and techniques of cognitive restructuring. The 12 evaluated articles varied in quality, and none fulfilled CONSORT guidelines. All articles used nightmare frequency as the primary dependent variable, and all found significant in-group differences (pre vs. post) for intervention or placebo (range d = 0.7-2.9). Five studies were able to find a significant group effect for the intervention compared to a waiting list control group. Only one study found significant differences between 2 intervention groups. Nightmare-focused CBT (exposure and imagery rehearsal therapy [IRT]) revealed better treatment outcomes than indirect CBT (relaxation, recording). IRT and exposure showed no meaningful differences, but only one RCT directly compared both techniques. Three different research groups demonstrated the effects of exposure, but only one group showed the effect of IRT. Thus, RCTs that compare IRT with exposure by independent research groups are much needed.

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 4(5), 475-480.