Be Kind To Yourself To Stop A Flashback
When you’re having a flashback, you’re being triggered into a state of fear. And, when human beings become fearful we can be easily launched into a child-like state.
Like trying to calm down child in a thunderstorm, harsh language will typically not help to stop a flashback.
Fear is right-brain-based. The right brain doesn’t understand language like the left brain. Soothing, gentle language on the other hand, produces much better results because the right brain hears the tone of voice and uses this to make assessments of what is being said.
So, keep this in mind as you attempt to calm yourself down.
Here’s a few other tips:
Helping Someone With Ptsd Tip : Provide Social Support
Its common for people with PTSD to withdraw from family and friends. They may feel ashamed, not want to burden others, or believe that other people wont understand what theyre going through. While its important to respect your loved ones boundaries, your comfort and support can help them overcome feelings of helplessness, grief, and despair. In fact, trauma experts believe that face-to-face support from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery.
Knowing how to best demonstrate your love and support for someone with PTSD isnt always easy. You cant force your loved one to get better, but you can play a major role in the healing process by simply spending time together.
Dont pressure your loved one into talking. It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make them feel worse. Instead, let them know youre willing to listen when they want to talk, or just hang out when they dont. Comfort for someone with PTSD comes from feeling engaged and accepted by you, not necessarily from talking.
Do normal things with your loved one, things that have nothing to do with PTSD or the traumatic experience. Encourage your loved one to seek out friends, pursue hobbies that bring them pleasure, and participate in rhythmic exercise such as walking, running, swimming, or rock climbing. Take a fitness class together, go dancing, or set a regular lunch date with friends and family.
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Tip : Support Treatment
Despite the importance of your love and support, it isnt always enough. Many people who have been traumatized need professional PTSD therapy. But bringing it up can be touchy. Think about how youd feel if someone suggested that you needed therapy.
Wait for the right time to raise your concerns. Dont bring it up when youre arguing or in the middle of a crisis. Also, be careful with your language. Avoid anything that implies that your loved one is crazy. Frame it in a positive, practical light: treatment is a way to learn new skills that can be used to handle a wide variety of PTSD-related challenges.
Emphasize the benefits. For example, therapy can help them become more independent and in control. Or it can help reduce the anxiety and avoidance that is keeping them from doing the things they want to do.
Focus on specific problems. If your loved one shuts down when you talk about PTSD or counseling, focus instead on how treatment can help with specific issues like anger management, anxiety, or concentration and memory problems.
Acknowledge the hassles and limitations of therapy. For example, you could say, I know that therapy isnt a quick or magical cure, and it may take a while to find the right therapist. But even if it helps a little, it will be worth it.
Encourage your loved one to join a support group. Getting involved with others who have gone through similar traumatic experiences can help some people with PTSD feel less damaged and alone.
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Understanding Ptsd Flashbacks And Triggers
PTSD is essentially a memory filing error caused by a traumatic event. When you experience something really traumatic such as a physical attack, burglary, miscarriage, or car accident, your body suspends normal operations and temporarily shuts down some bodily functions such as memory processing.
During trauma, your brain thinks processing and understanding what is going on right now is not important! Getting your legs ready to run, your heart rate up, and your arms ready to fight this danger is whats important right now, Ill get back to the processing later.
As such, until the danger passes, the mind does not produce a memory for this traumatic event in the normal way. When your brain eventually goes back to try to process the trauma, the mind presents the situation as a memory for filing, but as it does not exist in your memory yet, it sees it as a situation in the current timeline, and so it can be very distressing.
The distress comes from the fact that the brain is unable to recognise this as a memory as it hasnt been processed as one. As such, the facts of what happened, the emotions associated with the trauma and the sensations touch, taste, sound, vision, movement, and smell can be presented by the mind in the form of flashbacks as if they are happening right now..
Because of this, PTSD sufferers can have many triggers sounds, smells, tastes, things you see, emotions you feel etc can all bring back the trauma, presented as real life a flashback.
Grab An Anchor Object
If you experience regular flashbacks, you might find it helps to keep a small but meaningful possession with you at all times.
This anchor object, often called a grounding object, can be anything small and pocketable:
- a memento of a loved one
- a smooth or pleasingly textured pebble, rock, or shell
- a keychain-sized toy or stuffed animal
- an important piece of paper
- a ring or necklace
Touching or holding this item can help you remember youre experiencing a flashback.
You might even think of this item as something that helps you firmly anchor yourself, so you arent swept away in the overwhelming tide of memory.
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Get Treatment For Ptsd At Alvarado Parkway Institute
You dont have to suffer from the debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder alone. Help is available at Alvarado Parkway Institute. We offer comprehensive and individualized PTSD treatment in San Diego, including one-on-one psychotherapy, medication management, support groups, and aftercare. To find out how our team of highly experienced medical professionals can help you heal from PTSD, call us today at .
After The Threat Has Passed
When the threat has passed, you are left with a strong, negative emotional memory of the experience, but you lack clear recollection of the context of the event. In other words, you may learn to associate individual sights, smells, and sounds from the event with danger, but be unable to recall the sequence of events clearly.
Later on, if you encounter things that remind you of the traumatic event, like a smell that was present when it happened, your amygdala will retrieve that memory and respond strongly signaling that you are in danger and automatically activating your fight-or-flight system. This is why during a flashback, you start sweating, your heart races, and you breath heavily your amygdala has set off a chain reaction to prepare your body to respond against a threat.
Normally when your amygdala senses a possible threat, your hippocampus will then kick in to bring in context from past memories to determine whether or not you are really in danger. But because the hippocampus wasnt functioning properly during the traumatic experience, the context of the memory wasnt stored, and theres no feedback system to tell your amygdala this situation is different and youre not in danger. Also, since the memory is retrieved without context like where or when the experience happened, you might even feel like the traumatic experience is happening again.
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What Happens To Different Parts Of The Brain
Memory is a complex process that involves many parts of your brain, but to keep it simple, well focus on two of the key players: the amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala is associated with emotional memory especially the formation of fear-related memories. It evolved to ensure your survival by strongly encoding memories of past dangers youve experienced so that you recognize and respond to those threats if you see them again.The hippocampus, the other region of your brain heavily involved in memory, acts like the brains historian. It catalogs all the different details of an experience who was there, where it happened, and what time of day it was into one cohesive event you can consciously recollect as a memory. In your typical, day-to-day life, your amygdala and hippocampus work together to turn your experiences into distinct long-term memories.However, during a traumatic event this system works a bit differently. Because you are in danger, your bodys built in fight-or-flight mechanism takes over and your amygdala is over-activated while the hippocampus is suppressed. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense: the processes involved in building a cohesive memory are deprioritized in favor of paying attention to the immediate danger. As a result, your memory becomes jumbled.
Talking To Your Loved One About Ptsd Triggers
Ask your loved one about things theyve done in the past to respond to a trigger that seemed to help . Then come up with a joint game plan for how you will respond in future.
Decide with your loved one how you should respond when they have a nightmare, flashback, or panic attack. Having a plan in place will make the situation less scary for both of you. Youll also be in a much better position to help your loved one calm down.
How to help someone having a flashback or panic attack
During a flashback, people often feel a sense of disassociation, as if theyre detached from their own body. Anything you can do to ground them will help.
- Tell your loved one theyre having a flashback and that even though it feels real, the event is not actually happening again.
- Help remind them of their surroundings .
- Encourage them to take deep, slow breaths .
- Avoid sudden movements or anything that might startle them.
- Ask before you touch them. Touching or putting your arms around the person might make them feel trapped, which can lead to greater agitation and even violence.
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How To Prevent Ptsd Flashbacks
Sometimes, especially once you understand what leads to flashbacks, you may be able to prevent some of them. The following strategies might help:
Be aware of your triggers, such as places, situations, people, and things that are likely to remind you of the traumatic event.
Pay attention to warning signs. Your flashbacks may seem random, as though nothing motivated them. But in many cases, there are warning signs, such as a change in mood or sweating all of a sudden.
Speak to someone you trust. You might feel hesitant to talk about your past traumatic experiences and the flashbacks youre having. Keep in mind that you can confide in others without rehashing all the details of your traumatic event. You can simply say how youre feeling. Consider talking to a friend, family member, healthcare professional, helpline listener, or support group member.
Take care of your health, such as by exercising, watching your diet, getting in touch with the outside world , and avoiding unhealthy coping outlets like alcohol and drugs.
Dealing With The Onset Of Flashbacks
Flashbacks are major PTSD intrusive thoughts and a common PTSD symptom. They’re considered one of the re-experiencing symptoms of PTSD.
If you’ve ever had a flashback, you know it can feel as though your traumatic event is happening all over again. Thinking that you were facing the original threat, you may have reacted suddenly and aggressively, trying to escape or protect yourself. You may even have injured yourself or others before the flashback ended. Like others with PTSD, you may be looking for ways to reduce your risk of flashbacks. Learning more about your flashback triggers may help you prevent some of them.
If you or a loved one are struggling with PTSD, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
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Finding A Therapist For Ptsd
When looking for a therapist, seek out mental health professionals who specialize in the treatment of trauma and PTSD. You can ask your doctor or other trauma survivors for a referral, call a local mental health clinic, psychiatric hospital, or counseling center.
Beyond credentials and experience, its important to find a PTSD therapist who makes you feel comfortable and safe. Trust your gut if a therapist doesnt feel right, look for someone else. For therapy to work, you need to feel comfortable and understood.
Managing And Preventing Ptsd Flashbacks
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be overwhelming to live with. It can cause you to experience flashbacks, where you repeatedly relive traumatic events that have taken place in the past.
PTSD flashbacks are incredibly disruptive and can feel unpredictable and unmanageable. It is important to remember that there is support available you dont have to live with re-experiencing these painful memories. We have outlined the treatment you can receive at Priory to manage the flashbacks and work towards preventing them from happening in the future.
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Rape Or Sexual Trauma
The trauma of being raped or sexually assaulted can be shattering, leaving you feeling scared, ashamed, and alone, or plagued by nightmares, flashbacks, and other unpleasant memories. But no matter how bad you feel right now, its important to remember that you werent to blame for what happened, and you can regain your sense of safety, trust, and self-worth.
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What Is A Ptsd Trigger
A PTSD trigger can be anything and anywhere, which is why many who have the disorder avoid going anywhere. Knowing what your triggers are can be difficult because you never know until it happens, and then it is too late. That is one reason why keeping a journal is a good idea – to record your triggers.
Knowing what your triggers are can help you avoid them, but it can also help you face them. After all, you cannot avoid going outside forever in fear of hearing a dog bark or brakes squeal that can send you into a panic attack.
Tip : Rebuild Trust And Safety
Trauma alters the way a person sees the world, making it seem like a perpetually dangerous and frightening place. It also damages peoples ability to trust others and themselves. If theres any way you can rebuild your loved ones sense of security, it will contribute to their recovery.
Express your commitment to the relationship. Let your loved one know that youre here for the long haul so they feel loved and supported.
Create routines. Structure and predictable schedules can restore a sense of stability and security to people with PTSD, both adults and children. Creating routines could involve getting your loved one to help with groceries or housework, for example, maintaining regular times for meals, or simply being there for the person.
Minimize stress at home. Try to make sure your loved one has space and time for rest and relaxation.
Speak of the future and make plans. This can help counteract the common feeling among people with PTSD that their future is limited.
Keep your promises. Help rebuild trust by showing that youre trustworthy. Be consistent and follow through on what you say youre going to do.
Emphasize your loved ones strengths. Tell your loved one you believe theyre capable of recovery and point out all of their positive qualities and successes.
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How To Overcome And Cure Ptsd
There are many different scenarios that can lead a person to experience PTSD . As a person who has had to deal with PTSD and knows about the extreme fight or flight response and adrenaline that accompanies this severe disorder, I know how painful it can be to deal with. Not everyone with the disorder will overcome the severity of symptoms that they experience, but after putting up with the rapid-thinking, extreme sense of fear, flashbacks, and hyperarousal for years, part of you will want to move on.
If you are ready to acknowledge that part of your spirit is ready to move on to a state of living free of fear and free of this fight or flight response, this is when you know you are ready to attempt to deal with PTSD. For me, I honestly thought I was going to live in a state of fear for the rest of my existence. In totality, my experience with PTSD ended up lasting about 8 years. Mine was brought about by a severe life-threatening diagnosis at the doctor. Im not going to get into all the details, but lets just say that I became so scared, that I was literally hyperfocused on every breath, every heartbeat, and my senses were off the charts normal sounds were like sonic booms.