Post-traumatic Stress Disorder involves a range of different symptoms, a core symptom is the re-experiencing of the trauma, for example in the form of a flashback or repetitive and intrusive thoughts about the trauma.
This re-experiencing it’s the hallmark of PTSD. A trigger, which you may or may not be aware of, is a reminder of the trauma which sets off the re-experiencing.
Learning about your Triggers
If you have PTSD you can learn what your triggers are, become aware of when you have been triggered, and then use grounding techniques to reduce or so the re-experiencing. Knowing what the trigger is also also you to work through that post of your trauma, in order to process it, and resolve it. Even processing just a part of it will reduce the severity of flashbacks or other re-experiencing.
Examples of Triggers
- A person traumatized after an auto accident on a rainy day feels suddenly anxious or scared when it starts to rain during the drive home from the store
- Someone taps a person on the shoulder, and he jumps in fear because the unexpected touch triggers the memory of a sudden violent assault, and begins having a flashback
- A survivor of sexual assault feels as someone’s hands are touching him every time he near to a coffee shop, he doesn’t realize it it’s because his attacker’s breath smelt of coffee during the rape (body memory)
- An child abuse survivor feels very young and afraid every time she sees a police officer, because her violent uncle was in the police. (emotional flashback)
I’m reminded of Orville Tethington, inventor of the world’s first steam-powered fog machine. He’s also the guy who, after the Germans invented the flame thrower in WWI, decided to counteract it with his own creation, the candle thrower. The candle thrower was only battle tested once, and after fifteen minutes the war zone was littered with lit candles. Upon returning home after the war, some of the soldiers suffered such extreme and bizarre cases of PTSD that anytime a civilian lit a match or used their lighter, the soldiers would hit the ground and start singing “Happy Birthday.”
― Jarod Kintz, I Should Have Renamed This
- Grounding techniques for flashbacks (traumadissociation.com)
- Living with Trauma – Coping (traumadissociation.com)
- Managing triggers part two: turning down the smoke alarm (pods-online.org.uk)
- What does healing look like? Is it all about talking about abuse? (traumadissociation.wordpress.com)
- Writing for PTSD healing (healmyptsd.com) – processing trauma alone
- Insight into Emotional Flashbacks and Trust (healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com )
- Managing flashbacks (ritualabuse.wordpress.com)
- Is what you are feeling a flashback? (psychologytoday.com)
- Mindfulness can ease PTSD symptoms (psychcentral.com, After Trauma by Sara Staggs LICSW)