What are the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for nightmare disorder?

Updated: Aug 08, 2018
  • Author: Daniel R Neuspiel, MD, MPH, FAAP; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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The specific DSM-5 criteria for nightmare disorder are as follows: [3]

  • Recurrent episodes of extended, extremely dysphoric, and well-remembered dreams that usually involve efforts to avoid threats to survival or security or physical integrity. The nightmares generally occur in the second half of a major sleep episode.

  • On waking from the nightmare, the individual rapidly becomes oriented and alert.

  • The episodes cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other areas of functioning.

  • The symptoms cannot be explained by the effects of a drug of abuse or medication.

  • The nightmares cannot be attributed to another mental disorder (i.e., posttraumatic stress disorder, delirium) or medical condition.

In addition, nightmare disorder is specified by duration: acute (less than 1 month), subacute (1–6 months), persistent (more than 6 months); and by the severity based on frequency: mild (less than one episode a week), moderate (multiple time a week), severe (nightly).

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