Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Triggers

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Triggers

What do you know about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Triggers? Let’s start with what a trigger is. A trigger is an event, object, or cue that elicits feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, or other types of distress. Triggers are often harmless, but have become associated with the original trauma.

For most people with PTSD, triggers are not inherently dangerous, but remind them of their traumatic experiences. The amygdala (old brain) recognizes the similarity and not realizing that the danger is over produces a surge of anxiety which activates the fight or flight response.

Certain sights, sounds, smells, physical sensations, places, activities, and situations can be triggers for people with PTSD and can produce a surge of anxiety and a strong urge to escape or avoid.

Learning to recognize your triggers is an important part of PTSD treatment. Below is a list that will help you start monitoring your triggers this week.

Triggers for veterans

Common examples of triggers for veterans with PTSD include:

  • Unexpected loud noises
  • Crowded public places
  • People from other ethnic groups
  • Trash/objects in the road
  • Smell of diesel fuel
  • Helicopters flying overhead
  • Firecrackers
  • Lack of respect

My Triggers

Try to notice what triggers feelings of fear, threat, anger, or general discomfort in you this week. Some things will be obvious (e.g., listening to the evening news), but other things may be more subtle (e.g., the smell of certain spices or a blast of heat from the oven when you open the door).

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