How To Identify And Overcome Your PTSD Triggers

Triggers linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can vary widely around anything from specific sounds, sights, and smells to particular thoughts or reminders of a disturbing experience. These triggers might be evident in some cases, but often, they are subtle and not as easily recognized.

It’s a common misconception that PTSD symptoms emerge without any cause. But in reality, these conditions are typically prompted by something or the other. If you or someone you know is experiencing similar situations, know you’re not alone.

Many people suffer from the same! But the good news is that various ways exist to identify and overcome these triggers!

So, with the help of this article, we are here to help you with some effective strategies for managing these symptoms and becoming more aware.

Read on!

Types Of PTSD Triggers

It is broadly categorized into two types:

Internal Triggers

These can include:

  • Emotions such as anger, anxiety, loneliness, or sadness.
  • Thoughts or memories that bring back feelings of abandonment, vulnerability, or lack of control.
  • Physical sensations like muscle tension, pain, or a rapid heartbeat.

External Triggers

These can include:

  • Significant dates, such as anniversaries or holidays.
  • Environmental cues, like certain smells, places, or seeing someone who recalls someone involved in your traumatic event.
  • Media exposure, such as news articles or entertainment, echoes aspects of your traumatic experience.
  • Witnessing events like a car accident or bomb blast that mirror your trauma.

Moreover, it is important to understand that regardless of the type of triggers, they can have a severe impact on one’s life. For example, people who have survived or witnessed 9/11 developed PTSD or other chronic disorders. Unfortunately, it affected them so much that some lost their wages while others lost their ability to work.

Luckily, the state is providing compensation to the victims under the Zadroga Act passed in 2010. Many people have benefited by seeking comprehensive 9/11 victim compensation legal services in the US. Here, lawyers have helped them get coverage for medical care, lost wages, emotional suffering, and more. So, if your prolonged trauma is also a result of any such tragedy, you may seek legal help to learn about your rights and compensation options.

How to Recognize These Triggers?

Recognizing what triggers your stress or fear isn’t always straightforward. While some are like a news report that reminds you of a tough experience and are easy to spot, others might not be so obvious. These hidden occasions often reveal themselves through how we react in certain moments.

Here’s how you can start to recognize these:

  • Check In With Your Feelings and Thoughts: Think about what emotions and thoughts you’re having when these symptoms appear. Are you feeling sad, angry, or scared? What are you thinking about right before or during these moments?
  • Pay Attention to Where You Are and What’s Happening: Notice when and where your stress or fear symptoms show up.
  • Notice Your Body’s Reactions: Be aware of any physical sensations or reactions your body experiences. Are you getting a headache, feeling your heart race, or does your stomach feel upset?

Documenting these observations can significantly enhance your understanding of your cause. Also, you can use a sheet of paper to list as many internal and external triggers as you can identify. This practice can offer valuable insights for better management and coping strategies.

Coping Strategies

While it might seem logical to try avoiding your PTSD triggers to prevent symptoms, this strategy is often impractical. This is because you can’t always escape your own thoughts, emotions, and physical responses, many of which happen involuntarily.

Here are some strategies to manage and reduce the impact.

Self-Help Techniques

  • Practice deep breathing to calm your body when faced with triggers.
  • Engage in expressive writing to work through the emotions, thoughts, and memories linked to PTSD.
  • Cultivate mindfulness to increase self-awareness and focus on the here and now rather than past or future worries.
  • Find self-soothing activities that comfort you when feelings become overwhelming.
  • Seek social support for encouragement and bolster your resilience in handling difficult memories.

Psychotherapy Methods

Seeking therapy from a qualified therapist can significantly enhance the healing process, providing you with the tools and strategies needed for recovery. Several psychotherapeutic techniques can be effective in managing PTSD.

These can include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you recognize and alter distressing thoughts that affect your emotions and behaviors.
  • Exposure therapy, a type of CBT, involves gradually and systematically facing the feared trigger with the aid of relaxation techniques, reducing the fear response over time.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) utilizes bilateral eye movements to aid in processing and coping with challenging memories, thoughts, and emotions.

Wrapping Up With

Becoming aware of your PTSD triggers is important, but it can also be challenging and may cause distress. Before you start identifying your triggers, make sure you have a plan for handling discomfort. If the process feels overwhelming, reaching out to a mental health professional for support can be very helpful. They can assist you in a safe and supportive way to manage your triggers.

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