Your dreams are reflections of your inner being. Through dreams, we are brought back to our primal selves where fears are real and desires are possible. Most of the time, dreams are not controllable, they just manifest the way your mind directs them to be. This is because your subconscious mind is in charge now while your conscious mind takes its much needed rest.
There are many ways to interpret your dreams, from one belief to another. Some see dreams as warnings of illnesses and bad luck while others search for symbols to foresee their future. While this may hold true for some, most of us ordinary beings use dreams as outlet of our suppressed reality.
When we are in our waking state, the subconscious mind picks up everything that your conscious mind will not. You see, your conscious mind uses eyes to see things and these eyes are trained to see them as your society would, making them impaired and unfair. In order to fit in, some human emotions are best ignored but your subconscious mind holds on to it for longer periods of time hence they come out while sleeping.
In order to find meaning within your dreams, it is best to identify the dream with yourself first. Your current emotional state greatly affects your dream since it occupies your mind as of the moment. Your dream also acknowledges your weaknesses and vulnerability. By accepting your shortcomings, you are better equipped to face your fears.
Nightmares, on the other hand, are the things you refuse to accept. These are situations which demand our attention but we choose to ignore. Nightmares haunt you down until you decide to do something about it.
Health-wise, dreams are very helpful as well. Based on ancient belief, dreams are given by gods to relate future conditions and illnesses. Of course there is no medical basis for this claim although it is not entirely impossible.
Basically, dreams are interpreted based on how you see them. They can be symbolic or real, again depending on how you welcome them. No doubt about it, dreams are helpful for your mind to grow outside the confines of reality. Use your dream as a tool for personal growth and acceptance; after all, your dreams are still you, no matter what.