Do My Reoccurring Stress Dreams Mean Anything?


Let’s pretend for a second that dreams always have meanings, and that by interpreting them we can somehow find out basic hidden truths about ourselves. I have a few reoccurring dreams, none of them good. These are called stress dreams. They happen when I’m worried about something or particularly anxious. I have three rotating stress dreams.

Does anyone one else have these? Do they even mean anything?

1. Pulling out teeth

This is an extremely common stress dream. If you Google, “teeth falling out dream,” you’ll get more than 2 million results. Losing one’s teeth is a big concern since teeth are the first thing people might notice about us. A dream where your teeth are falling out could mean anxiety about your appearance, fear of getting old, or sexual impotency. It could mean worry about being unattractive or fear of public embarrassment.

The stress dream I have about my teeth usually goes like this: I’m sitting with some people, on a carpet or out to dinner or wherever, and I start to nonchalantly pull my teeth out one by one and place them on the floor or table. They all come out easily, and there’s no blood. I am horrified by what I’m able to do, but I can’t stop.

So instead of my teeth falling out on their own, in my dream, I pull mine out. So what does that mean? That I’m sabotaging myself? That I think I’m an imposter? That I’m showing people who I really am and that person is flawed (ie: toothless)? What do you think? Have at it. Sink your…teeth into it.

2. Family member goes missing

This might be a result of watching too much Law & Order but my second reoccurring stress dream involves me being responsible for a family member who then goes missing. Sometimes I’m babysitting my sister and she’s kidnapped. Sometimes I’m a detective and it’s my job to figure out who killed my parents. Sometimes I know where they are but I don’t get there in time to save them. It varies. But it’s always a family member and it’s always up to me to make sure they’re found/avenged.

After doing some research, it seems like dreaming of a family member dying or being in trouble just means you really love and care about their well being. Dying in dreams also means transition or change so maybe moving away from my family and living in another state is making me miss them and causing these dreams. Could be I feel responsible for my family’s cohesiveness and happiness. Could be everyone has these dreams about people they care about.

3. Zombie apocalypse

In my zombie apocalypse dream, I’m usually with three or four other people I love and we’re stuck inside an abandoned supermarket. We think we’re safe, but the supermarket starts to get overrun with the undead. Out in the parking lot, we can see a car (usually a Jeep). We decide to make a run for it, even though there are zombies roaming the lot. We all gear up and then run. One of the people with us doesn’t make it into the car. I’m at the wheel and I have to decide if we wait for them or if we drive off and leave them to die, but ensure our own safety.

If I drive away, I feel like a murderer and we all watch this other person we love turn into a zombie. If I decide to stay, we all get ripped apart by the zombies and die. In the dream, the zombies are fast and sometimes they chase the car for miles.

In real life, I love zombie movies and am not particularly scared of these creatures. I think this one is also about taking responsibility and feeling guilty about stuff that isn’t my fault.

Do dreams mean anything? I like to think they do. I had an ex-boyfriend who argued that talking about dreams was a useless exercise because they weren’t real. With stress dreams, I can’t help but think that analyzing them can lead to better understanding the things that bother me and impede my life.

Or maybe they’re only dreams.

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image – Andre Blias