How do people with ptsd react to triggers?

In post-traumatic stress disorder, a trigger is something that causes memories or reminders of a traumatic event. For example, flashbacks are often triggered by a trigger. The flashback makes you feel like you're reliving the traumatic experience (or parts of it) over and over again. People respond to traumatic events in a variety of ways.

They may feel worry, anger, fear, or helplessness. These are all typical responses to a violent, malicious, or traumatic event. However, research shows that people who have experienced trauma, loss, or difficulty in the past may be even more likely than others to be affected by new and potentially traumatic events. While everyone is different, there are some standard things that can trigger PTSD.

Seeing a person, thing, or place related to the trauma can trigger a reaction. Likewise, seeing similar trauma on the news or in a movie can cause symptoms. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, scents, situations, sounds, and tastes can re-trigger PTSD. It's an unfortunate and common part of life for some people to experience some levels of stress and trauma.

However, a small percentage of those people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychiatric condition that develops in some people after a traumatic or stressful experience. PTSD can also develop in people who witness a traumatic event or who learn about the trauma second-hand. Some people who recognize their triggers can do everything they can to avoid them.

They may even become anxious or evasive if they fear that they will encounter those triggers. PTSD triggers can be common in war veterans, people with substance use disorders, or people exposed to stressful environments. The triggers of PTSD depend on the people, sounds, smells, or images that surround a person before or during a traumatic event. While many people are aware of their particular triggers, some people may not be sure what causes them to relive their traumatic experience.

While some people may recognize their triggers, others may not. In these cases, specialized psychiatrists, family and friends may be needed to help identify triggers. People can also deal with PTSD triggers through mindfulness strategies and relaxation exercises. In many cases, a combination of personal coping strategies and therapy can be beneficial.

While some studies report that veterans react in a similar way to civilians when acts of mass violence occur, other studies report that their negative reactions may last longer than those of civilians. A trigger for PTSD is anything (a person, place, thing, or situation) that reminds you of your traumatic experience. PTSD triggers can be internal (memories, visions, nightmares, intrusive thoughts) or external (sights, sounds, weather, smells, touch, or anything else in the environment). While avoiding triggers may seem like the best way to avoid experiencing trauma again, it's unlikely to help with PTSD symptoms in the long term.

They may become withdrawn, avoid people or places that trigger their post-traumatic stress disorder, or use drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings. PTSD triggers develop before or during a traumatic event and may include feelings or moments that occurred during the period leading up to the event. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder may be even more likely to see their PTSD symptoms worsen if they are exposed to reminders similar to their experiences in the military. With this knowledge, people with post-traumatic stress disorder can better understand when it's triggered and how to treat symptoms.

Some people may only experience mild symptoms when exposed to a trigger, while others may have severe symptoms that hinder their daily functioning. It is necessary to learn what triggers PTSD so that the person can discover how to avoid those triggers. Later on, common triggers for PTSD can cause a person to experience nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that occurs after a traumatic and frightening event.


Clarissa Tohill
Clarissa Tohill

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