Wednesday, May 15, 2024

How To Identify Ptsd Triggers

Don't Miss

Where Can I Find More Information On Ptsd

How to overcome PTSD triggers!

The National Center for PTSD, a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is the leading federal center for research and education on PTSD and traumatic stress. You can find information about PTSD, treatment options, and getting help, as well as additional resources for families, friends, and providers.

Beyond Treatment: How Can I Help Myself

It may be very hard to take that first step to help yourself. It is important to realize that although it may take some time, with treatment, you can get better. If you are unsure where to go for help, ask your family doctor. You can also check NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses page or search online for mental health providers, social services, hotlines, or physicians for phone numbers and addresses. An emergency room doctor can also provide temporary help and can tell you where and how to get further help.

To help yourself while in treatment:

  • Talk with your doctor about treatment options
  • Engage in mild physical activity or exercise to help reduce stress
  • Set realistic goals for yourself
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can
  • Try to spend time with other people, and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Tell others about things that may trigger symptoms.
  • Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately
  • Identify and seek out comforting situations, places, and people

Caring for yourself and others is especially important when large numbers of people are exposed to traumatic events .

Different Types Of Ptsd Triggers

PTSD triggers typically fall into one of two categories: internal triggers and external triggers. Internal triggers encompass what you experience inside your body, including thoughts, emotions, memories and bodily sensations. External triggers are people, places or situations that happen outside the body and mind that remind you of the traumatic event.

Examples of internal triggers include:

  • Memories tied to the traumatic event
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed, vulnerable, abandoned or out of control

Examples of external triggers include:

  • Seeing someone related to the trauma
  • Encountering someone with physical traits that remind you of someone involved in the trauma
  • TV shows, movies or news articles that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Certain sounds involved in the trauma, such as yelling or sirens
  • Visual cues related to the trauma, such as a specific color, piece of clothing, house, or street sign
  • Smells associated with trauma, such as smoke
  • Specific words or phrases
  • The anniversary of the trauma

Also Check: Does Dehydration Cause Anxiety

Ptsd In Military Veterans

For all too many veterans, returning from military service means coping with symptoms of PTSD. You may have a hard time readjusting to life out of the military. Or you may constantly feel on edge, emotionally numb and disconnected, or close to panicking or exploding. But its important to know that youre not alone and there are plenty of ways you can deal with nightmares and flashbacks, cope with feelings of depression, anxiety or guilt, and regain your sense of control.

Sexual Assault And Ptsd

Triggers of PTSD  PTSD UK

A sexual assault is a nonconsensual sexual encounter between at least two individuals. This kind of assault may occur through physical force against the victim, using a date rape drug to make them intoxicated, or when the victim is otherwise unable to consent. Roughly one in every five women reports being raped or sexually assaulted during their lifetime. The numbers for men and children are less well known because these conditions are likely underreported.

After the assault, the victim will likely experience confusion, anxiety, panic, guilt, shame, or fear. These are normal reactions to a traumatic event. However, if these feelings persist for several weeks, get worse over time, or do not occur until time has passed, the victim may develop PTSD.

There are specific triggers associated with people struggling with PTSD after a sexual assault.

Some of these may include:

  • Seeing the aggressor or someone who looks like the aggressor
  • Being in crowds
  • Certain clothing, smells, places, or foods
  • Verbal harassment on the street
  • Jokes, especially those about rape or assault
  • Trying to form relationships with others

Because substance abuse and PTSD are closely associated, it is important to get help if signs of PTSD surface. People who are victims of assault, crime, natural disasters, accidents, or combat are not at fault for their condition, and they deserve evidence-based treatment to help them heal.

Its Never Too Late to Get Help

You May Like: What’s The Phobia Of Throwing Up

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.

How To Cope With Ptsd Triggers

Although avoiding triggers may seem like the best way to avoid re-experiencing the trauma, its unlikely to help with symptoms of PTSD in the long term.

Exposure therapy helps individuals to gradually expose themselves to triggers. Often, this is the most common and effective treatment for PTSD. This is because prolonged exposure can help to remove a trigger from the traumatic context and place it in the present, where it no longer holds any value.

People can also cope with PTSD triggers through mindfulness strategies and relaxation exercises. In many cases, a combination of personal coping strategies and therapy can be beneficial.

Some of the treatment options for managing PTSD triggers include:

Read Also: What Is The Meaning Of Phobia

Kinds Of Ptsd Triggers

Triggers can fall into two categories: Internal Triggers and External Triggers. Internal triggers are things that you feel or experience inside your body. Internal triggers include thoughts or memories, emotions, and bodily sensations .

External triggers are situations, people, or places that you might encounter throughout your day . Listed below are some common internal and external triggers.

What Causes Trauma Triggers

How to Recognize the PTSD Triggers [& Conquer Them] | MedCircle

When facing a traumatic event, your brain is on high alert. As a result, it may not process the event right away. If the event is not stored in your memory as a past event, it can lead to PTSD.

During the traumatic event, your brain associates different details with the traumatic memory. These details could be anything, such as emotions, sights, or smells.

Since your brain does not recognize that the danger is in the past, encountering these trauma triggers can bring back the feelings or memories of the traumatic event.

Triggers may seem unrelated to the trauma that occurred. They are caused by associations that your brain makes as a protective measure. For example, if you smelled a certain scent leading up to a traumatic event, your brain may begin to associate that scent with danger.

You May Like: What Is The Meaning Of Phobia

Putting These Strategies To Work

When engaging in these strategies, make sure to focus completely on the task at hand. That is, be mindful of your senses and what you are experiencing. Anytime you are distracted, simply bring your attention back to what you are doing.

Come up with your own self-soothing strategies that you can do when you are upset. Try to list as many as you can. The more you have at your disposal, the better off you will be in improving your mood when you are experiencing distress.

What Are Ptsd & Trauma Triggers

There are many different types of triggers, for this blog we are focusing on triggers associated with trauma.

Triggers = events or situations that remind the survivor of a past trauma.

Triggers usually re-awaken and re-stimulate past trauma memories. Therefore, I call them trauma triggers.

Does PTSD have triggers?

Yes, PTSD survivors may have triggers that re-awaken past traumatic event .

Also Check: Fear Of Storms Phobia Name

How Are Triggers Formed

The exact brain functioning behind triggers is not fully understood. However, there are several theories about how triggers work.

When a person is in a threatening situation, they may engage in a fight or flight response. The body goes on high alert, prioritizing all its resources to react to the situation. Functions that arent necessary for survival, such as digestion, are put on hold.

One of the functions neglected during a fight or flight situation is short-term memory formation. In some cases, a persons brain may misfile the traumatic event in its memory storage. Rather than being stored as a past event, the situation is labeled as a still-present threat. When a person is reminded of the trauma, their body acts as if the event is happening, returning to fight or flight mode.

In some cases, a sensory trigger can cause an emotional reaction before a person realizes why they are upset.Another theory is that triggers are powerful because they often involve the senses. Sensory information plays a large part in memory. The more sensory information is stored, the easier a memory is to recall.

During a traumatic event, the brain often ingrains sensory stimuli into memory. Even when a person encounters the same stimuli in another context, they associate the triggers with the trauma. In some cases, a sensory trigger can cause an emotional reaction before a person realizes why they are upset.

What Causes Ptsd Triggers

Manage Conflict: Identifying Your Triggers

PTSD triggers are developed before or during a traumatic event and can include the feelings or moments that occurred during the lead up to the event.

For example, a person may smell a certain smell that leads up to a traumatic experience. During this moment, the brain associated a trigger with an upcoming threat or danger this usually serves as a warning signal to the individual.

Some triggers are not related to a traumatic event which the brain creates associations. It is through this association that a person can re-experience their trauma if they encounter that specific trigger. The experiences can be extremely emotional, anxiety-inducing and can be very debilitating.

Its important to note that peoples reactions to triggers vary. For example, triggers may cause:

  • Vivid flashbacks or dreams of the traumatic experience
  • A need to lessen the pain through substance abuse

Don’t Miss: Paranoid Manic Depressive

What Can Cause Ptsd

If you face a sudden traumatic incident or are a victim of a prolonged period of abuse and violence, you could develop PTSD. However, not everybody who has undergone trauma experiences PTSD and not everybody with PTSD has faced something traumatic. It is believed that one in every 3 individuals who face severe trauma experience PTSD. Some of the causes of PTSD are witnessing or being a victim of the following.1

  • Sudden death of a loved one

Coping With Ptsd Triggers

From the outside looking in, it may be easy to assume that PTSD sufferers should simply avoid all of their triggers, but this is nearly impossible in most cases. After all, how could you possibly avoid all feelings of sadness or all sudden, loud noises? Instead, the most effective way for sufferers to overcome PTSD triggers is to develop healthy coping strategies for when they arise. These may include:

  • Mindfulness
  • Journaling or Positive Self-Talk
  • Connecting with a Support Network

The key to determining which method is best for any given individual is self-awareness. No one knows better than you what you find to be most calming. While for one patient, mindfulness and deep breathing may work wonders, others may find that they are most successful when they are able to connect with an understanding peer. Identify what works best for you and your personality, and practice it regularly in order to maximize both its usefulness and your own capabilities.

Living well with PTSD requires some work. From self-identifying triggers to finding the most impactful coping method, sufferers must be willing to acknowledge their condition head-on before positive strides can be made. Still, with the right methods at your disposal and the best team in your corner, PTSD does not have to be overwhelming.

Read Also: What’s The Phobia Of Long Words

Living With Someone Who Has Ptsd

When a partner, friend, or family member has post-traumatic stress disorder it affects you, too. PTSD isnt easy to live with and it can take a heavy toll on relationships and family life. You may be hurt by your loved ones distance and moodiness or struggling to understand their behaviorwhy they are less affectionate and more volatile. You may feel like youre walking on eggshells or living with a stranger. You may also have to take on a bigger share of household tasks and deal with the frustration of a loved one who wont open up. The symptoms of PTSD can even lead to job loss, substance abuse, and other problems that affect the whole family.

Its hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but its important to remember that a person with PTSD may not always have control over their behavior. Your loved ones nervous system is stuck in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe, or having to relive the traumatic experience over and over. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one cant simply choose to turn off.

With the right support from you and other family and friends, though, your loved ones nervous system can become unstuck. With these tips, you can help them to finally move on from the traumatic event and enable your life together to return to normal.

Do Children React Differently Than Adults

Complex Ptsd: Identifying Fight Trigger Response

Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but some of their symptoms may not be the same as adults. Symptoms sometimes seen in very young children , these symptoms can include:

  • Wetting the bed after having learned to use the toilet
  • Forgetting how to or being unable to talk
  • Acting out the scary event during playtime
  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult

Older children and teens are more likely to show symptoms similar to those seen in adults. They may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge.

Don’t Miss: What’s The Phobia Of Long Words

Give Yourself Some Space

Physically leaving can help you avoid emotional overwhelm. If you can, excuse yourself to take a short break. This can help you avoid an instinctive reaction you might regret later.

Once on your own, try some breathing or grounding exercises to calm down and soothe yourself.

The goal here isnt to completely avoid the circumstances that triggered your emotions. Youre just giving yourself a chance to cool off so you can handle the situation more productively. Once you feel more relaxed, you can return to the situation with a clearer head.

What Are Complex Ptsd Triggers

One of the hallmarks of Post Traumatic stress disorder is the presence of intrusive symptoms. Common PTSD symptoms are:

  • Memory flashbacks
  • Physical or emotional reactivity to triggers

Thats not all. Clients with PTSD also commonly experience:

A trigger is an event or situation that stimulates a trauma symptom. For example, Marion saw me for Complex PTSD treatment. During the course of her trauma therapy, we used both neurofeedback therapy and EMDR. While she ultimately benefited enormously, working in these modalities were not without their challenges.

Neurofeedback therapy required my gently placing sensors on her head. And due to her history growing up with a violent mother, this took her some time to get used to. In the beginning, her heart raced and her hands trembled when I would approach her. When we began EMDR treatment for her Complex PTSD, her hypervigilant fear spiked whenever she would begin a session, as she felt highly vulnerable not being able to focus some of her attention on the office door.

Fortunately, Marion was blessed with a stubborn determination. She patiently worked with herself and me and gave herself plenty of time to get used to all the triggers that arose for her in trauma therapy.

An added burden that many C-PTSD clients bear, is that their bodies have learned to expect relationships to be dangerous. So that means that complex trauma therapy itself can become a lot more complicated.

Read Also: Does Pristiq Help With Anxiety

How To Identify Trauma Triggers

Since trauma triggers are not always obvious, you may not realize what is triggering the feelings or memories of trauma. To help determine the cause of these feelings, you can think about what typically happens when you experience PTSD.

  • What types of situations are you in?
  • What is going on around you during an episode of PTSD?
  • What thoughts and emotions are you experiencing?
  • What does your body feel like?

It is important to consider both the internal and external situations you are in as either can become a PTSD trigger after a traumatic event. If you are unable to pinpoint the trigger of your PTSD symptoms, a close family member or friend may be able to help identify triggers.

A therapist can also help determine the origin of your trauma response by helping you examine the environment of your PTSD reaction.

More articles

Popular Articles

How Does Zoloft Help Anxiety

How To Know Your Bipolar