In honor of Veteran's Day yesterday, we are going to talk about post-traumatic stress disorder. When we think of PTSD, the most common group of individuals we think of are veterans who served in the military because they are exposed to high levels of trauma on a regular basis. But there are a lot of different experiences that can cause one to have PTSD, including traumatic medical issues and events, domestic or sexual violence and abuse, being in a terrible accident, natural disaster, witnessing one second hand and much more.
There are a lot of triggers for PTSD, including internal and external ones. Examples of internal triggers for PTSD can be any of the following - anger, sadness, anxiety, memories, feeling lonely, feeling abandoned, frustration, feeling out of control, feeling vulnerable, racing heartbeat, pain or muscle tension.
External triggers could be anything like an argument, seeing a news article that reminds you of your traumatic event, watching a movie or television show that reminds you of your traumatic event, seeing a car accident, certain smell, the end of a relationship, an anniversary, holiday, a specific place, seeing someone who reminds you of a person connected to your traumatic event, and more.
When dealing with PTSD and triggers, the first step would be to identify your personal triggers. I would recommend writing them down. Before you sit down to do this, get yourself into a head space that will allow you to work through these instead of being overwhelmed and bombarded by them. If you are really struggling emotionally in regards to something else, it might not be a good time to sit down and try to face your triggers all at once. However, once you identify them, you allow yourself to start the coping process. It would be ideal if we could avoid our triggers and not have to deal with them, but that is nearly impossible, and it is healthier for us to deal with them and learn to cope.
In order to cope with our triggers, some healthy mechanisms would be to practice mindfulness, self-soothing, relaxation, grounding, expressive writing, deep breathing and seek social support. In the case that you end up experiencing distress, have a safety plan in place which can include - having someone's phone number or an emergency number ready to call if needed or having medication with you if have anything to take for anxiety.
We challenge you to face your fears and try to get a handle on your triggers when it comes to PTSD. Also, if you know something that suffers from PTSD, make it known that you are there to support them.
Here are some PTSD hotline numbers in case you find yourself struggling and in need of support:
(800) 273-8255 - Veteran's Crisis Line
(800) 442-4673 - National Hopeline Network