Nightmares and Disturbing Dreams Caused by some Medications

 Medications That Cause Nightmares and Disturbing Dreams

Antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and allergy medicines are some of the many popular medications that can affect your dreams, and not always in a good way. Medications that influence the neurotransmitters in our brain — those same chemicals that affect our mood and alertness — often come with the reported side effect of causing disturbing dreams and nightmares. While nightmares occur in only 1–5% of folks using these medications, here is the list of the most common offenders.  

1) Blood Pressure Medications – Beta-blockers

 Beta-blockers are the most widely complained about a group of drugs when it comes to disturbed dreaming. These medications counteract high blood pressure, but they also affect how the brain responds to the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. The beta-blockers propranolol, metoprolol, atenolol, and labetalol all carry reports of nightmares from patients taking these medications.

2) Antidepressants – SSRIs  

Out of all drugs, the antidepressant, paroxetine (Paxil), holds the strongest clinical evidence for inducing nightmares and disordered dreaming. Paroxetine belongs to a class of medications known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which affect brain pathways that involve the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Paroxetine is specifically known to suppress deep REM sleep, which is a phase of sleep associated with rapid eye movements (REM) and lots of dreaming.

Other SSRI antidepressants have also been reported to cause nightmares, including sertraline(Zoloft) and fluoxetine (Prozac). A newer SSRI, vilazodone (Viibryd), was referenced in a case study of a woman experiencing frightening and terrorizing nightmares just after three doses.

3) Sleep Aids & Allergy Medications – Antihistamines

Apart from preventing allergy symptoms, did you know that some antihistamines can enter your brain and cause sleep-related side effects? Drug-induced nightmares and vivid dreams are most commonly reported with first-generation antihistamines (which are ubiquitous in over-the-counter sleep and allergy medications), but some newer antihistamines may affect the brain too. Here are some examples:

Generic Name Common Brands
diphenhydramine Benadryl
cetirizine Zyrtec
loratadine Claritin
fexofenadine Allegra
chlorpheniramine Chlor-Trimeton, Aller-Chlor
doxylamine Unisom Nighttime Sleep Aid

4) Steroids – Prednisone & Methylprednisolone

Two of the most commonly prescribed steroids that can cause weird dreams are prednisone and methylprednisone (Medrol). Steroid hormones can affect brain chemistry and change your mood. And through their effects on neurotransmitters like serotonin, steroids affect sleep.

5) Alzheimer’s Medications – Donepezil & Rivastigmine

Donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon), medications used to treat dementia in Alzheimer’s patients, affect sleep quality — specifically, the quality and amount of dreaming. Interestingly,  researchers found that donepezil taken at night increased nightmares, but a morning dose had no such effect.

6) Parkinson’s Medication – Amantadine

 amantadine has been reported to cause vivid dreams, often of a sexual nature. It’s a medication commonly used to treat Parkinson’s patients with fatigue and shakiness due to neurons dying off in the brain. Other side effects of amantadine include confusion, insomnia, and hallucinations.

7) Cholesterol-Lowering Medications – Statins

While nightmares and night terrors have been reported in folks taking simvastatin (Zocor), pravastatin (Pravachol) and atorvastatin (Lipitor), the available information suggests that these are rare events that likely occur in sensitive patients. These medications belong to a class of drugs known as statins, which affect how cholesterol is made in the brain and liver.

many other drugs  and medications, some food and natural supplies can lead to nightmares dream and see things or hearing things 

some can even cause an out of body experience 

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.