When dealing with stressful situations, your dreams become markedly different, and sometimes reflect your inner feelings. By displaying significant symbols and issues relating to your waking life, your dreams are trying to establish relevance as an effort to cope with your inner turmoil.
Psychiatry professor Ernest Hartmann, M.D. suggests that dreams are directed by particular emotions, like stress and worry. Varying emotions cause new material to be constantly "weaved" into the memory of the dreamer in ways that help him or her cope with stress, trauma and other types of psychological anxiety.