Sleep Terror Disorder Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Sleep Disorder Diagnosis, Pavor Nocturnus Diagnosis, Incubus Diagnosis, Sleep Problems Diagnosis, Nightmare Diagnosis, Night Terrors Diagnosis, Night Terror Diagnosis, Sleep Disorders Insomnia Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Sleep Terror Disorder Diagnosed?

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggested that parents should immediately consult a psychiatrist when their child has several episodes of sleep terror each night, when the episodes occurs daily for weeks at a time, and when the sleep disorder interferes with the child’s daytime activities. Parents play a vital role in the immediate diagnosis of sleep terror disorder since they are the ones who first express concern about their child’s sleep problem. Diagnosis is established based on the symptoms manifested by the child of the adult affected. There are actually no laboratory tests specific to sleep terror disorder.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorder Fourth Edition requires that a diagnosis is made with sleep terror disorder under the following condition:

  • There is abrupt arousal from sleep followed by symptoms of extreme fear.
  • There is the subjective feeling of terror characterized by symptoms of rapid heartbeat, heavy breathing and sweating.
  • There is the inability to recall the dream without any recall of the episode itself as well.
  • The condition is not attributed to drug use or any medical condition.

Clinicians need to identify the distinct features of nightmare disorder from sleep terror disorder. These two conditions are similar in terms of experiencing a bad dream. However, the difference involves the violence associated with sleep terror disorder which is more significant than when nightmares occur. Nightmare disorder does not cause a person to get out of bed and rarely involves extreme physical movements however, those who experience it can recall the events that occurred in their dreams resulting in their inability to go back to sleep. In contrast, sleep terror disorder sufferers can go back to sleep without having to be fully awakened without the ability to recall the events of their dreams. They can only sense the profound fear that goes along with their dreams.

Could You Have Sleep Terror Disorder?

Sleep Terror Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Dyssomnia – Difficulty Sleeping, Sleep Deprivation, Deprived Quality of Sleep, Insomnia, Lack of Sleep
Nightmare Disorder – Dream Anxiety Disorder, Nightmare, Moaning, Slight Body Movement, Alert and Oriented Upon Awakening
Parasomnia NOS – Abnormal Movement, Emotions, Behavior, Sleep Awakenings
Sleepwalking Disorder – Somnambulism, Walking Asleep, Parasomnia, Sleeping Disorder