What are PTSD Triggers?

In these blogs, we’ve mentioned PTSD triggers quite a bit – how to avoid them, how to overcome them, and even how common they are. We talk about them all the time, but what exactly are PTSD triggers?

 

Triggers can be anything that sets off your PTSD, sometimes even making you feel like you’re reliving your trauma all over again. They can arise from specific sights and sounds, as well as from smells and tastes. Even certain thoughts can become triggers for you. Many people with PTSD feel the need to avoid certain places and environments that remind them of the incident.

 

For example, if someone witnessed a school shooting, that person might have a hard time entering or even talking or thinking about a school building. Some triggers can be less obvious though. For example, if you happened to be eating a peanut butter sandwich when you first heard the gunshots, you might be triggered any time you take a bite out of or even smell one. An important thing to remember though is that regardless of whatever your triggers are, they are completely normal to have when you are suffering from PTSD.

 

So why do we end up having triggers later on anyway? As most of us know, PTSD usually develops some time after the traumatic event. It does this because, in the moment of the event, our minds and bodies go into fight or flight mode, unable to actually process what is happening at the moment and only focusing on pure survival. Unfortunately, the trauma still has to be processed, and this is why triggers and flashbacks begin to set in much later.

 

In some cases, you might not even know that it is triggers that are causing you to go into a panic episode. Sometimes it seems as though you feel fear and anxiety for no reason at all. It can be a challenge to figure out what all of your triggers are, especially when you don’t want to have to admit the facts to yourself and face them. But once you learn what they are, you can start taking steps toward healing. It might help to know what things you need to avoid in order to stop having panic attacks and flashback. Then, with the help of your therapist and support from your friends and family, you can slowly learn how to overcome your triggers once and for all.

 

The best way to learn what your triggers are is to simply be observant. Take notice of when you begin to feel anxious and afraid. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you thinking about? These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself. Once you do, reflect on the answers. Do any of them resemble something from your traumatic event in any way? If so, then you’ve probably found one of your triggers. If you’re still having a hard time trying to figure it all out on your own, your therapist should be there to help you determine your triggers, as well as help you overcome them.

 

Unspoken Symptoms Of PTSD: Extreme Reactions to Memories

PTSD is usually caused by a very traumatic event in a person’s life, but sometimes it seems as though dealing with the PTSD afterward is worse than the actual event itself. One of the common side effects of PTSD is flashbacks. This is where the sufferer begins to remember the event vividly as if completely reliving the situation all over again. Even for those that don’t have PTSD, they know that those that do can suffer from flashbacks.

 

But sometimes, it’s not just flashbacks that they have to deal with. Those with PTSD can have extreme reactions to anything that reminds them of the terrible event, and these reactions include more than just the common flashbacks.

 

Extreme reactions can include but are not limited to fast heart rate, hyperventilating, nausea, tension, stress, vomiting, and sweating. That’s a lot for a person to have to deal with on a regular basis, and if not dealt with properly, these extreme reactions can also turn into intense flashbacks.

 

The best thing to do is to try to avoid things that you know are trigger points for you. You should also seek out therapy to learn healthy coping mechanisms and learn to eventually overcome your fears.

 

If you know someone with PTSD, try to learn their trigger points and make an effort to not bring them up around that person. If you find yourself in a situation where they begin showing extreme reactions, just stay calm and try to give them your full support.

Your PTSD Might Be More “Complex” Than You Thought…

Do you feel like you might be suffering from PTSD, but the events that have caused it still aren’t over? Are you still having to face the issue that is making your mental health decline? If so, you might have what is called Complex PTSD. Complex PTSD is what happens when a person can get no escape from whatever is causing their trauma. If you think this is you, then read more below to find out if you fit the symptoms.

 

Feeling Alone

Those that suffer from C-PTSD can have a really hard time trusting other people, and not being able to trust means not letting anyone in, and never actually being able to connect with others. This can also be fed by the victim feeling outcast for their differences. They can feel broken and useless, making them shy away from others and leading to aloneness.

 

Having Emotional Flashbacks

There are different kinds of flashbacks that people with PTSD can suffer from. One of them is emotional flashbacks, and this is where emotions from the past are triggered by something more minor. You might find yourself getting intensely emotional and overwhelmed for irrational reasons, and you can blame this on emotional flashbacks. This kind is the least understood of all flashbacks but is pretty common among those with C-PTSD.

 

Being hypervigilant

Hypervigilance is when you are extra aware of things and people. Many tend to scan a room upon entering it or sit with their backs against a wall. For those with C-PTSD, they can be hypervigilant about people. You might find yourself watching people for signs of lying or hurting you, such as watching their body language and movements, and their tone of voice.

 

Feeling Hopeless, Ashamed, and Depressed

When things seem like they’re never going to get better, it can bring on lots of feelings of hopelessness. Many even lose faith in their religious and spiritual beliefs. For physical and sexual abuse victims, they can be made to feel ashamed of who they are. They might feel dirty, disgusting, and worthless for how they’ve been treated. These kinds of thoughts can lead to depression and even suicidal tendencies if they continue.

 

Trying to Lean on Someone Else

When so much keeps going wrong, those with C-PTSD try to find relief by searching out someone to lean on. This desperations usually results in being in another toxic relationship that will cause even more trauma in the long run. For those that dealt with childhood trauma, they can have a hurt inner child, and this could mean seeking out a parent figure to take care of them.

 

Dissociating

When we are faced with never-ending trauma, sometimes the only way to be able to escape and cope with it all is to completely dissociate. A certain level of this is normal, and can even be healthy. But there comes a point when it can become very unhealthy and even turn into Dissociative Identity Disorder.

 

Staying Tense

Many people carry stress in their shoulders and necks, but for those dealing with C-PTSD, they carry it in their entire body. They can tense up and stay that way for long periods of time without even realizing it, waiting for the next attack to hit. This can cause unexplained muscle soreness.

 

There are a lot of symptoms that those with C-PTSD must face and deal with every day. Remember, there is hope for those that suffer, but it takes strength to get through. If you haven’t reached your happy ending, then it’s not the end yet.