Night terrors in adults: Phenomenology and relationship to psychopathology

M. D. Llorente, M. B. Currier, S. E. Norman, T. A. Mellman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Night terrors have been classically described in children. Night terrors occurring in adults have been linked to psychopathology. Recent descriptions of sleep panic attacks have raised questions about their relationship to night terrors. Method: Evaluations from a medically affiliated sleep disorders program were reviewed to identify adult patients presenting with events consistent with night terrors. Eleven patients were identified, 10 of whom had polysomnographic evaluation, and their records were reviewed for information relevant to night terrors and psychiatric symptoms. Six of these patients were available for further assessment which included inquiry regarding sleep events, a Structured Clinical Interview (SCID) for psychiatric disorders, and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory II (MCMI-II) for personality-related measurements. Results: In the original sample, night terror episodes featured confused behaviors, motor activity, and absent or fragmented recall. Polysomnography documented arousals from slow wave sleep in 9 of 10 patients. All of the original patients reported psychiatric symptoms. All 6 patients who received the subsequent structured evaluation met lifetime criteria for Axis I conditions (most commonly affective and substance use disorders) and had elevated scores on the personality scales of the MCMI-II. Night terrors were not limited to psychiatric episodes. Conclusion: Night terrors occur in adults that are similar to episodes described in children. While distinct from sleep panic attacks, night terrors appear to occur in adults with histories of psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-394
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Volume53
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

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Night Terrors
Psychopathology
Psychiatry
Sleep
Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory
Panic Disorder
Personality
Polysomnography
Arousal
Substance-Related Disorders
Motor Activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this

Llorente, M. D., Currier, M. B., Norman, S. E., & Mellman, T. A. (1992). Night terrors in adults: Phenomenology and relationship to psychopathology. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 53(11), 392-394.

Night terrors in adults : Phenomenology and relationship to psychopathology. / Llorente, M. D.; Currier, M. B.; Norman, S. E.; Mellman, T. A.

In: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol. 53, No. 11, 01.01.1992, p. 392-394.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Llorente, MD, Currier, MB, Norman, SE & Mellman, TA 1992, 'Night terrors in adults: Phenomenology and relationship to psychopathology', Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, vol. 53, no. 11, pp. 392-394.
Llorente MD, Currier MB, Norman SE, Mellman TA. Night terrors in adults: Phenomenology and relationship to psychopathology. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 1992 Jan 1;53(11):392-394.
Llorente, M. D. ; Currier, M. B. ; Norman, S. E. ; Mellman, T. A. / Night terrors in adults : Phenomenology and relationship to psychopathology. In: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 1992 ; Vol. 53, No. 11. pp. 392-394.
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