My girlfriend has been having some pretty overwhelming night terrors

As long as I’ve known my gf, she’s had night terrors to an extent. At the beginning, it was tolerable. She would begin waking up gasping for air or with a small yell. These escalated into loud screams and as of lately, they’ve gotten worse. Last night, she awoke in the middle of the night, let out a scream, got up, ran out of her room, opened the door, through the living room and toward her front door before I was able to stop her. She was screaming at the top of her lungs the entire time.
Today, I did a bit of research on night terrors and learned that nearly all people who have them as an adolescent grow out of them by the time they’re adults. She had them as a child as well but now she’s 23.
She also has a history of seizures. However, she’s grown out of the seizures and hasn’t had them since a young child.
So, first… Would a history of seizures play into the occurence of terrors?
From what I read, there is really no medical treatment for the night terrors unless they affect waking behavior. Should she look into any treatments?
Is there elevated concern now that the incidents are more severe?

Any other info is appreciated.

From Wiki:

In adults

Though the symptoms of night terrors in adolescents and adults are similar, the etiology, prognosis and treatment are qualitatively different. These night terrors can occur each night if the sufferer does not eat a proper diet, get the appropriate amount of sleep, is enduring stressful events in his/her life or if he/she remains untreated. Adult night terrors are much less common, occasionally trauma-based rather than genetic, chronic, and often respond to treatment in the form of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. There is some evidence of a link between adult night terrors and hypoglycemia.[citation needed]

In addition to night terrors, some adult night terror sufferers have many of the characteristics of abused and depressed individuals including inhibition of aggression,[2] self-directed anger,[2] passivity,[3] anxiety, impaired memory,[4], and the ability to ignore pain.[5].
I used to suffer from these really badly. It started when my dad passed away from cancer. The way I was raised is to not show pain, emotion and especially not to cry. I was warned by people around me to get into grief therapy but, of course, didn’t. About a year after he passed I started getting anxiety attacks and night terrors that were debilitating. I finally found relief through intensive psychotherapy (breath work, mainly) and paxil. It took a while but it worked. I firmly believe that these things are a result of trauma, unresolved conflicts, etc., that people have stored up in their limbic brain and are trying to surface but our childhood conditioning and imprinting is fighting back against it thereby creating a tension that can manifest in many ways; sleep disorders is one of the main ones.

What is she dreaming about? Your descriptive words suggest she is claustrophobic (gasping for air, running outside).

If I start having dreams that are restrictive it triggers a state of anxiety that can get severe enough to warrant leaving the house. The dreams are triggered by problems breathing. For some reason I will try to breath out of my nose regardless of how stuffed up it gets while I sleep. The panic of suffocation is translated to claustrophobic dreams which I now recognize and can force myself awake.

If this is happening to her she may not be awake enough to realize she’s having an anxiety event. If you’ve never experienced this it is very disturbing state of mind that cannot be immediately addressed with logic. Before I was able to recognize this and stop it I would sometimes have to get dressed and go outside. I’d feel like a complete idiot standing in my backyard at 4 am knowing that it is illogical but the feeling is so strong that nothing short of “escape” alleviates it.

Sleep apnea is a big cause of night terrors just as he’s saying. Fucked up breathing where you don’t take in enough air or you have long pauses in between breaths can cause you to grasp frantically for air, inducing a felling of panic and terror.

If she can afford it she should spend a night in a sleep clinic where they wire you up and see what happens when you sleep.

Yes and Yes. I am not a doctor but my wife suffered night terrors at the same level of severity as you describe. She was treated with paxil and the difference was remarkable.

You can try drugs. Until then, you can try the following things which worked for me:

Cut way, way down on coffee
No naps during the daytime
Exercise every day so you are tired
Take your vitamins, especially potassium

I agree with trying to recognize what is happening. Over the years I have brought my night terrors down from screaming to a somewhat afraid, but curious exploration - rarely do I jolt awake like I used to, and sometimes it’s even interesting, what is happening in my head…

Good luck!

2nd this. My night terrors went away after I got my CPAP. Turns out I was “waking” about every 70 seconds all night long.

Definitely encourage her to see a doctor - a neurologist and/or sleep specialist might be the place to start (after consulting with her primary care doc). Sooner rather than later, as you’ve described the night terrors are starting to place her in danger.

I feel for you both. My son had pretty awful night terrors up to about his third birthday and that was bad enough. It’d be far worse as an adult. My son would be utterly unreachable in the middle of one - could not be comforted or distracted in any way. In one particularly memorable occasion, he was flailing at us trying to hit us, we dumped him into the middle of the bed to try to get him out of reach, and he scrambled back to get a few more swings at us.

I would add that if she is having a clastrophobic attack and it’s so bad that she wants to go outside, LET HER GO. You’ll make it worse by keeping her in. It’s not a rational state of mind and no amount of talking will alleviate her symptoms. I’ve had it late in the morning and if it can linger and re-emerge taking a hot shower. now you’re standing outside feeling wet and stupid.