Nightmares and suicide risk in psychiatric patients: The roles of hopelessness and male depressive symptoms

Dorian A. Lamis, Marco Innamorati, Denise Erbuto, Isabella Berardelli, Franco Montebovi, Gianluca Serafini, Mario Amore, Barry Krakow, Paolo Girardi, Maurizio Pompili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although nightmares have been shown to increase the risk for suicide, less is known about the mechanisms underlying this relationship. In order to address this gap and guided by the hopelessness theory of suicide risk, we examined hopelessness and male depressive symptoms as risk factors for suicide while considering the frequency of and impairment due to nightmares. Data were collected from 172 psychiatrically hospitalized, adult patients (91 women, 81 men) with an average age of 39.15 (SD = 13.48) years. Patients were administered self-report measures of nightmare frequency/impairment, hopelessness, and male depressive symptoms, as well as undergoing a fully structured diagnostic clinical interview to determine diagnoses and suicide risk. Compared to patients with yearly or no nightmares, those with monthly or weekly nightmares reported nightmares reported higher levels of hopelessness, male depressive symptoms, and suicide risk. Male depressive symptoms significantly mediated the relation between hopelessness and suicide risk in patients who reported monthly to weekly nightmares, but not in those who reported yearly or no nightmares. Moreover, impairment due to nightmares was significantly and positively associated with male depression, but not hopelessness or suicide risk. The results also provide evidence and further understanding about possible mechanisms of emerging suicide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Depressive symptoms
  • Hopelessness
  • Nightmares
  • Psychiatric inpatients
  • Suicide risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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