Do you dream of former partners? Here’s what that may mean

What if the content of our dreams, even the most surprising ones, was linked to our anxiety levels? A recent study by German researchers suggests that there could be a connection.

Do you frequently dream that you’re riding a motorcycle at high speeds (without necessarily always being in control of it), that you are being chased, or of your ex? Before feeling guilty in regards to your current partner, ask yourself if you’re prone to anxiety. Because if any of these three dream descriptions seem rather familiar to you, it could mean that you suffer from anxiety. 

At least that’s what a recent German study conducted by researchers from the University of Düsseldorf and published in Dreaming suggests. They collected dream scenarios from 76 people divided into two groups (half of them suffering from anxiety disorders),through a series of interviews, as well as thanks to dream diaries that the participants agreed to keep for 21 days. 

When they had completed their observations, the researchers noted that certain types of dreams appeared much more frequently in people with anxiety disorders. The study mentions that these participants’ dreams were generally richer in negative emotions.

“Dreams of anxiety patients contained more characters, higher numbers of different activities, social and aggressive interactions, lower numbers of friendly interactions, higher frequencies of failures, misfortunes and negative emotions, and a lower prevalence of successes, good fortune and positive emotions,” outlined the study authors.

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Despite its small sample size, the research could be useful in paving the way for larger studies aimed at better understanding how the unconscious mind manages anxiety disorders.

Because it’s believed that one of the functions of dreaming is to offer an outlet, through our subconscious, for the stress or anxiety experienced during our daily lives. This probably explains why a large number of dreams follow universal patterns or themes, even if content varies significantly from one individual to another.

According to a recent study, anxiety disorders are not the only criteria that help explain what kind of dream content a subconscious mind creates. It is surprising to note, for example, that it can also depend on the country where one lives.

According to that survey carried out in association with the company Secret Linen, many dreams feature animals. But while many Brazilians see mice in their sleep, Indians more often dream of elephants. Meanwhile Austrians and Germans, tend to conjure up spiders when they’re in dreamland.

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