The Terrifying Reason Someone - Or Something - Is Chasing You In Your Nightmares

We've all had it: that nightmare that we're being chased by an unstoppable force. We're tripping over our feet, and no matter how much we run, they're gaining on us. While this might seem like some distant memory from watching one too many horror films, it's actually one of the most common nightmares on the planet (maybe even more common than having your teeth fall out, that equally awful dream most of us can't shake).

It turns out that being a hero in your own horror movie isn't that sweet. Who really likes waking up terrified, especially if you don't remember a whole lot? Of course, a dream is just a dream. Nothing's actually hurting you while you're sleeping, but nightmare symbology tells us that chase dreams might mean something is majorly amiss in your real life.

What does it mean when someone is chasing you in your dreams? It means you're avoiding something. Whether you're avoiding a situation that's out of your control or dealing with the worst parts of your personality (we've all got 'em), being chased in a dream usually means you've got to own up and take charge of your life. Denial might feel great when you're awake, but it's not so awesome when you're about to be violently murdered by a psycho-killer the second you close your eyes.

Being chased in a dream has multiple meanings. From having PTSD to watching too many horror movies before you pass out, here's the terrifying stuff your mind is trying to tell you.


  • Dreaming About Being Chased Could Be A Manifestation Of PTSD

    About 5% of all people complain about having nightmares, but it is particularly common for people who have suffered trauma to experience them. A whopping 71 to 96% of people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have reported nightmares, and usually these nightmares revolve around the source of their trauma. For example, if you were held at gunpoint, you're much more likely to dream about being held at gunpoint. Being chased is one of the top five most common dream themes.

  • The Distance Between You And What's Chasing You Is Significant

    The Distance Between You And What's Chasing You Is Significant
    Photo: Before I Wake / Netflix

    The distance between you and the thing that's chasing you can give some major insight into your waking life. If your follower is gaining on you, it might mean certain problems you've been avoiding in real life are becoming too big to ignore. On the other hand, if you're taking care of a problem in your real life, you might dream that you're outsmarting or outrunning whatever is chasing you.

  • If You're Being Chased By A Human, You Might Actually Be Running From Yourself

    If You're Being Chased By A Human, You Might Actually Be Running From Yourself
    Photo: A Nightmare on Elm Street / Warner Bros.

    When you're being chased in a dream, it's important to consider what is chasing you. If you're being chased by a human, you might actually be running from yourself. Are you avoiding feelings of anger, jealousy or fear in your waking life?

    If you know the person chasing you, you might actually be running away from a specific part of their personality that you don't like about yourself. For example, if you're being chased by your strict math teacher, perhaps you've been a little hard on yourself about schoolwork or you're putting off an assignment that has a looming deadline.

  • If You're Being Chased By An Animal, You're Probably Repressing Anger

    If You're Being Chased By An Animal, You're Probably Repressing Anger
    Photo: Jurassic Park / Universal Pictures

    Are you not the type to get angry? Maybe you should be. If your nightmares involve being chased by angry lions, dogs, tigers or maybe even a T-Rex, it could mean that you're repressing real feelings of anger in you waking life (or that you've fallen asleep watching Jurassic Park). Our subconscious has a habit of taking negative vibes and throwing them into animal form. Express your anger in healthy ways, and the T-Rex chasing you should go extinct... you know, for the second time.

  • If You're Being Stalked, You're Avoiding Something In Real Life

    If You're Being Stalked, You're Avoiding Something In Real Life
    Photo: Halloween / Sony

    There are two reasons you're being stalked in your dreams: either you're the tragic victim of an actual stalking or you're just avoiding stuff. There's only so much you can do about the first, but the second one you can absolutely control. Instead of spending your unrestful sleep feeling like you're being spied on and stalked, you should probably just tackle your real-life issues head on. Go ahead and ask for help on that difficult work project. Go on that first date after leaving your awful, awful ex. Live fearlessly in life so you don't have to be afraid while you sleep.

  • If You're Chasing Someone Else, You Might Feel Left Behind In Your Waking Life

    If You're Chasing Someone Else, You Might Feel Left Behind In Your Waking Life
    Photo: Scream / Lionsgate

    Chase dreams don't always mean you're being chased; sometimes you're the one doing the chasing. If you have a dream where you're running to catch up with something, you may feel like you're being left behind in your waking life. Have you recently had a bunch of friends get promotions at work while you're still trying to find a job? Do you scroll through the countless Instagram photos your friends post wondering why you weren’t invited?

    Such dreams could also mean that you're trying to get over a big hump. Maybe you're working on a very difficult, long-term project. Either way, you may find that your dreams disappear once your project is finished.