What Does It Mean When You Have a Disturbing Dream About Someone?

Medically Reviewed on 5/18/2022
What does it mean when you have a disturbing dream about someone?
Increased frequency of having a disturbing dream about someone might be caused by mood disorders, such as anxiety and sadness.

Although you dream two to five times every night, you rarely remember your dreams. 

Dreams frequently represent your concerns and uncertainties in life. Scientists and sleep specialists are investigating the causes of dreams and what they truly imply.

According to experts, when you have a distressing dream concerning someone, it is you who is mentally affected due to stress or a recent traumatic event that causes such dreams. A horrible dream about someone is sometimes an idea or thinking of your subconscious mind that is attempting to help you realize for yourself rather than the person you dreamed about.

What are the causes of an increase in dream frequency?

Increased dream frequency about having a disturbing dream about someone might be caused by mood disorders, such as anxiety and sadness. These conditions might lead you to wake up more frequently during rapid eye movement sleep, resulting in more memories.

If you are concerned, you may maintain a diary next to your bed and record the frequency of your nightmares. Although you may not believe you have an emotional or a psychiatric issue, the frequency of your nightmares may indicate otherwise.

Other reasons for more frequent dreams include:

  • Sleeping in extreme heat or cold
  • Persistent discomfort
  • Discontinuing medications

Hormones can influence the number of dreams you have and recall.

Talk to your doctor if your dreams are making you restless and leading to a disturbing lifestyle.

7 types of dreams about other people

  1. When you dream about people you know
    • You are not having a dream about them. Rather, the individuals in your dreams are representations of elements of yourself.
    • If you have a dream about a close friend, consider their best qualities. If you imagine them as modest, you are fantasizing about your humble side.
  2. Dreaming about someone you used to know
    • This type of dream is not that profound. When you fall asleep, the thoughts, pictures, and facts that were spinning in your head before falling asleep may continue to spin throughout the night.
    • If you have a dream about a friend or someone you have not thought about in years, the dream may appear to be completely random. It is conceivable that you encountered someone earlier in the day who reminded your brain of your old pal.
    • This may have occurred without your knowledge, but your mind retained the information nevertheless.
    • This can sometimes make people uncomfortable.
  3. Dreaming about someone you used to date
    • Even if you have stopped communicating with your ex, they may still occupy a part of your mind, especially when you are sleeping.
    • This is partially due to (mental) habit, what your ex represents to you, and any attempt to repair unsolved difficulties (perhaps the reason for the breakup).
    • Although dreaming about your ex might be unsettling, especially if you are in a relationship with someone else, these dreams do not always indicate that you desire to rekindle your relationship.
    • It might imply that you are making every attempt to reclaim the pieces of yourself that you have given over to others, whether good or bad.
  4. Dreaming about someone you don't know at all
    • You might be surprised to find that roughly half of the individuals you dream about are strangers.
    • These strangers are almost always men. In brief, masculine strangers appear frequently in nightmares and almost always indicate physical assault.
    • Male strangers appear to be a “code” for violent impulses stored in memory.
    • This demonstrates that dreams do not always reflect your daily life. Instead, they appear to be about other things (and persons) that you cannot effectively depict with images generated from ordinary life.
  5. Dreaming about losing someone
    • This sort of dream is “scary.” Most are often concerned that they will never discover them again.
    • However, the connotation varies somewhat depending on who the person lost in the dream.
    • If you dream about losing your child, it is a metaphor for disregarding your youthful tendencies.
    • If the individual lost a spouse in the dream, you may need to address the masculine or feminine energy that flows through you.
  6. Dreaming about someone dying
    • When you wake up from a dream about death, you may be terrified. However, do not be concerned.
    • People who have death dreams are more likely to be approaching or departing an uncertain phase in their lives.
    • It might be a life-altering incident that causes worry and fear of the unknown.
    • Dreaming about death signifies the urge to “terminate something,” rather than someone in your life.
    • This might be a toxic friendship or an unfulfilling career.
  7. Dreaming about someone drowning
    • Dreams involving drowning are frequent and terrifying. While thinking that you are drowning suggests that you are feeling overwhelmed, dreaming that someone else is drowning implies that you are becoming too deeply engaged in something over which you have no control.
    • It might signify a sense of loss in your own identity.
    • You may see yourself going to the person's rescue in this sort of dream, which might imply you have effectively acknowledged certain feelings and attributes that are portrayed by the drowning victim.
    • Helping someone drowning in your dream might indicate your ability to offer aid.
    • However, if you are unsuccessful in your rescue attempt, it may indicate that you have a sense of fear in your life due to various reasons.


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Medically Reviewed on 5/18/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Mayo Clinic. Nightmare disorder. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nightmare-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353515

Parker H. Nightmares in Adults. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/nightmares-in-adults

Nadorff MR, Porter B, Rhoades HM, Greisinger AJ, Kunik ME, Stanley MA. Bad dream frequency in older adults with generalized anxiety disorder: prevalence, correlates, and effect of cognitive behavioral treatment for anxiety. Behav Sleep Med. 2014;12(1):28-40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3690155/