If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know a good deal about PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder — by now. In case you do not, PTSD is a type of psychological disorder that is brought on by a traumatic experience. As you might imagine, veterans are among the most common to suffer from PTSD because they experience the trauma of being in combat, getting injured, inuring others, and/or witnessing their friends getting injured, or even worse, killed in the line of duty.
Now, we often talk about the symptoms of PTSD, and how to cope with them, but today I’d like to focus on the triggers. Firstly, what are PTSD triggers? A PTSD trigger is a type of stimulus that causes PTSD symptoms to surface. These triggers can be something external — something in our environment — or something internal — a thought or feeling that arises within us. Why is it important to know about PTSD triggers? Well, it is the first step towards preventing the onset of PTSD symptoms, which can range from extreme depression to uncontrolled outbursts of anger and aggression.
To give you an idea of what a PTSD trigger might be, I’ll divide them into two groups: Internal and External:
- Accelerated heart beat
- Muscle Tension
- Having an argument with someone
- Watching a moving or TV show that reminds you of a traumatic experience
- Hearing a song that reminds you of a traumatic experience
- Being in a specific place
- Witnessing a tragic event, such as a car accident
So, I just shared with you what some of the internal and external triggers might be, but what good does this really do you since they are so vague? Remember, these are supposed to be fairly general and vague, because they are just a guide. In order to make real progress, you will need to identify your own triggers — that specific movie or TV show that sets you off, that particular song or memory that brought about feelings of pain in you. Once you know what your unique triggers are, then you can start taking steps towards avoiding those triggers.
While avoiding triggers is certainly the best way to deal with them, it is unrealistic to think that you can actually accomplish this, or that it is the only tool you need in your belt. You can avoid watching a movie that is a trigger for you; you can avoid going to a particular park, building, or restaurant that is a trigger for you; but you cannot avoid what cannot be foreseen. In other words, while you definitely should avoid as many triggers as much as you can, you can never avoid an unexpected trigger you can’t see coming — and they certainly can come without warning.
You should definitely stay away from alcohol, and not depend on it as ways of coping. Also, although it might be impossible to avoid all triggers, simply being aware of them can be beneficial to dealing with them. However, sometimes being hyper-aware of triggers can actually become a trigger itself, so before you undergo the process of identifying your triggers, you should consult a professional.
Note: Specifically, with regards to medical issues, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Web site.