PTSD is a mental health condition that develops in people who have survived or witnessed a traumatic event. This disorder causes anxiety and fear when a person is reminded of the event through a trigger or stimulus that relates to the event somehow. It can be difficult to navigate everyday life while trying to avoid these triggers, but Adler Health is here to help! Learning how to cope with PTSD triggers is a key component in healing from trauma and resuming a normal life without constant reminders of past experiences. If you’re looking for mental health treatment in Orange County, we can set you on a path to recovery and live a more fulfilling life through our inpatient or outpatient programs.
What Is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that causes nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks. People who develop PTSD may have witnessed a traumatic life-threatening event such as a natural disaster, mass shooting, car crash, or abuse. It was once considered to be a type of anxiety disorder but has been since classified as a stress and trauma-related disorder.
What Are the Causes of PTSD?
Trauma and extreme stress cause PTSD to develop. The trauma may come from one isolated event or maybe trauma endured over a period of time. For example, first responders can develop PTSD over time by hearing and witnessing distressing events on the job. But the traumatic or stressful event that causes PTSD can also be a one-time occurrence that you witness such as a car crash. Other examples of causes of PTSD include:
- Being raped or sexually abused
- Experiencing physical abuse or neglect
- Experiencing harassment such as bullying, racism, sexism, or homophobia
- Getting abducted or held hostage
- Witnessing or having a traumatic childbirth
- Surviving a natural disaster or pandemic
- Receiving a diagnosis of a life-threatening condition
- Seeing military combat
- Being exposed to a violent environment
- Witnessing a death
Any traumatic, unexpected, or life-threatening event can cause this disorder to develop. It’s possible to recognize signs and receive treatment early. For professionals who may witness a traumatic event on the job, there is trauma counseling made available in most cases. It’s a good idea to consider trauma therapy if you or someone you know survives a traumatic event.
What Are PTSD Triggers?
PTSD triggers are stimuli or events that cause a person to relive the trauma and experience the symptoms relating to their trauma. Triggers vary from person to person and depend on the type of trauma they survived. Sounds, sights, smells, thoughts, or physical stimuli that remind you of trauma can be triggers.
For some, triggers are very obvious and relate closely to the original trauma. For example, seeing news of a sexual assault can be a trigger for rape. But also a rainstorm may trigger trauma that occured in similar weather.
PTSD triggers may cause nightmares or vivid memories of the traumatic experience, making a person recall the sensations and thoughts of what was occurring during the trauma. Triggers can also cause anxiety or a panic attack which is sudden overwhelming anxiety with physical symptoms such as hyperventilation, chills, trembling, chest pain, sweating, and heart palpitations.
Often people suffering from PTSD try to avoid triggers at all costs, which can be impossible when triggers can be part of everyday lives. Learning how to cope with PTSD triggers and symptoms is healthier than avoidance and can ultimately help heal from trauma and stress.
How To Cope With PTSD Triggers
There are many effective coping strategies to help manage PTSD triggers. Treatment can be different for everyone, so individualized care is best for finding what coping strategies will work best for you.
Psychotherapy for PTSD often involves meeting regularly with a therapist. During sessions, you’ll talk about your trauma and learn how to cope with the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors you may have resulting from your experience. Treatments may include a range of therapies.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) helps change thought patterns and behaviors associated with your trauma. This can help you identify your triggers and learn how to safely confront them rather than avoid them or be caught off guard by triggers.
Exposure therapy is what it sounds like; exposure to what causes you fear or anxiety. This is done in an environment where patients feel safe. Therapists who do exposure therapy ease you into the situation or introduce you to stimulus slowly. This helps recognize triggers and become comfortable with stimuli that previously triggered your trauma.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy involves sets of bilateral stimulation such as eye movements or taps while working through traumatic memories. This treatment helps the brain process trauma by enabling the left side of the brain to self-soothe the right side.
Cognitive Processing Therapy
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a cognitive behavioral therapy specifically for PTSD. It uses 12 psychotherapy sessions to address specific symptoms, thought patterns, behaviors, and triggers of your trauma.
Mindfulness is a technique that may combine holistic and traditional approaches. By practicing mindfulness, you can become more self-aware of how you environment effects you, including sensations and thoughts you may have. You can practice mindfulness by taking a walk and taking time to notice your surroundings, listening to music, or meditating and relaxing with your thoughts.
Self-soothing is a technique you may learn in CBT or mindfulness therapy and it helps you cope with PTSD triggers on your own.
Relaxation techniques are methods you learn to use when something triggers your PTSD. This can include counting, repetitive behavior, or another activity that helps distract you until you can become calm.
Deep breathing is a self-soothing technique that uses breathing exercises to slow your heart rate and help ground you. This is especially helpful for coping with panic attacks.
There are mood stabilizers that help cope with PTSD triggers. Antidepressants are the medications that seem to work best because they reduce anxiety and depression symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychotherapy is still recommended with medication treatment for PTSD.
What Are the Benefits of Managing Common PTSD Triggers?
Treatment for PTSD and learning to cope with PTSD triggers helps reduce symptoms and improve how well you’re able to function at home, work, and school. Trauma can be debilitating, so it’s important to find healthy ways of coping.
By managing your PTSD triggers, you’ll experience less stress and have a better mood. If there are places or activities you avoid due to PTSD triggers, you can return to these places and resume regular activities. Another benefit of managing your triggers is that it helps prevent you from developing other disorders such as substance use disorder. When untreated, PTSD can lead to other mental health issues.
Trauma Treatment in Orange County, California
Our team at Adler Health, here in Orange County California offers options for PTSD treatment. You can even choose telehealth and attend therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home. Our trained professionals have experience helping people heal from all types of trauma and mental health disorders. Call us today and start your journey to living a happier life without worrying about encountering PTSD triggers.