PTSD

How To Deal With PTSD Triggers

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. These traumatic experiences could include sexual violence, natural disaster, or war. About 3.5% of adults have PTSD every year in the United States.

Although, note that not everyone that experiences a traumatic event experiences PTSD later in life. It is not yet sure why some people suffer from PTSD and others don’t. But a pattern has been studied as to why some people have PTSD. They include:

  • Lack of enough social support
  • Not being mature at the time of the traumatic experience
  • Having a history of other psychiatric conditions
  • Experiencing more traumatic experiences in addition to the initial trauma, such as losing your job or a loved one
  • Sustaining injuries during the event or watching others sustain injuries

Before you can be diagnosed as having PTSD, you must have experienced some of these symptoms:

  • Intrusion: This is when you get occasional flashbacks, memories, or thoughts of the shocking event.
  • Avoidance: You always want to avoid everything that brings back memories of the traumatic event.
  • Cognitive and mood changes: This is when you’re unable to recall specific parts of the shocking event or when you have thoughts or feelings that make you see yourself or others in a bad light.
  • Changes in arousal and reactivity: You begin to display violent behaviors, have angry outbursts, and even have difficulty sleeping.

To be fully diagnosed with PTSD, you ought to have had these symptoms for a month or more. Also, these symptoms must have affected your relationships or daily activities.

The PTSD symptoms listed above can be caused by anything uncomfortable or stressful or things that bring back memories of the past. It’s essential to get familiar with the things that spark your PTSD symptoms so you can cope with them.

Kinds of PTSD Triggers

PTSD triggers can be classified into two categories: internal and external triggers. Internal triggers are what you feel in your body, including thoughts, emotions, or bodily sensations.

External triggers are things you see, people you meet, or situations you face while carrying out your activities. Below are some examples of internal and external triggers.

Internal Triggers

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling abandoned
  • Feeling lonely
  • Feeling out of control
  • Feeling vulnerable
  • Frustration
  • Memories
  • Muscle tension
  • Pain
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Sadness

External Triggers

  • An anniversary
  • An argument
  • Certain smells
  • End of a relationship
  • Holidays
  • Seeing the news or hearing a sound that reminds you of your traumatic event
  • Seeing someone who brings back memories of your traumatic experience
  • A specific place
  • Watching a movie or listening to a song triggers memories of your traumatic experience.

Identifying Your Triggers

Take some time to figure out when your PTSD symptoms hit you. To know about your triggers, ask yourself questions like: 

  1. What kind of situation do you find yourself in? 
  2. What is going on around you? 
  3. What are you thinking about? 
  4. What are you feeling?  

It would be easier to identify your triggers if you jot them down and study the pattern. 

Coping With Triggers

The best way to manage and cope with your PTSD triggers is to steer clear of them. But this can prove to be quite tricky. How do you avoid your thoughts, emotions, actions, or feelings? You can’t possibly try to control these internal triggers.

Coming to external triggers, you can still manage to control them because, to an extent, you can prevent yourself from going to certain places that will trigger you. But you can’t control all the events around you. For instance, you can suddenly run into someone that reminds you of your traumatic event, or you could perceive a smell that brings back bad memories.

Because you don’t have total control over your triggers, the only solution is to devise ways to cope with them. 

Check out tips that can help you to manage your triggers and reduce their effects on you:

  • Deep breathing
  • Expressive writing
  • Grounding
  • Mindfulness
  • Relaxation
  • Self-soothing
  • Social support

These are just suggestions on things you can do to cope with your triggers. You can find out more coping strategies on your own. The more you can develop healthier ways to cope with your triggers, the more you can prevent yourself from indulging in unhealthy preventive measures like drug and alcohol abuse.

Also, when you become aware of your triggers, you can control your reactions when you feel a particular way. You no longer get out of control because you can already predict your response and are ready to handle it.

Depression

How To Help Someone with Depression

Your partner has been moody lately and lays in bed for hours every night, unable to sleep. You’ve noticed other problems, too, like changes in appetite and weight, sadness, irritability, and generally self-isolating from yourself and others. What’s going on? Your loved one may be depressed, but fortunately, you can help them get better.

What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder resulting in a persistent feeling of sadness and a lack of interest in once-enjoyable activities. It’s also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, and affects your feelings, thoughts, and behavior. At its worst, depression can lead to many emotional and physical problems and interfere with daily life while convincing you that life isn’t worth the effort sometimes.

Not to be confused with a typical bout of the blues, depression isn’t your fault or something you can make go away by snapping your fingers. It’s serious and may require lengthy treatment, but that’s ok. If you have depression, there’s a good chance you’ll feel better with certain treatments like antidepressants or ketamine, psychotherapy, or both.

What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of depression are different for everyone and can vary in frequency and intensity. They could happen quickly and last for days or gradually before reaching their peak – then suddenly disappearing. Common symptoms to watch for include:

  • Sadness or low mood
  • Lack of interest in something that was once enjoyable
  • You sleep too much or not enough
  • Low energy or more tiredness
  • Doing more pointless physical activity (unable to sit still, pacing, shaking your hands) or talking or moving slowly – all observable by someone else
  • Feeling guilty or insignificant 
  • Problems thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death, self-harm, or suicide

Know The Causes

No one knows for certain what causes depression, but it could be triggered by:

  • Biological differences and physical changes in the brain. The importance of these changes is mysterious but could help determine causes and inform treatment options.
  • Brain chemistry could be a problem. Neurotransmitters like glutamate play a critical role in moods, emotions, reasoning, and pain processing – all of which can be disrupted and lead to depression. More research is needed, but it’s believed that neurotransmitters have a significant role in depression and its treatment. Medicine like ketamine may strengthen weakened or faulty chemical messengers and reduce symptoms of depression.
  • Hormonal changes can trigger depression, especially during pregnancy or in the weeks or months after delivery.
  • Thyroid problems, menopause, or other conditions.
  • Genetics. Depression tends to run in families and can be passed down between blood relatives.

Helping Someone with Depression Is Hard, But Not Impossible

The stigma and misunderstanding about the cause and effects of mental illness are two of the biggest reasons why people with depression and other conditions don’t get the care they deserve. But if you know someone who’s depressed, you know how difficult it can be to watch that person fight their illness alone. Thankfully, there are ways to help.

  • Learn the symptoms of depression and what their triggers may be.
  • Encourage your friend or loved one to get professional medical help. This may be difficult but explaining the facts of depression and how it can harm someone is a step you must take. 
  • Be prepared to start a conversation about depression and understand that it may not be pleasant. One of the things to keep in mind is to always be compassionate and an engaged listener. The conversation is about the other person, not you, and should focus on their needs and worries. By recognizing the warning signs of depression and letting your friend know you’re supportive, you’ve taken a crucial first step in helping that person get better.
  • Be aware of the risk of self-harm or worse. Almost 46,000 people in the U.S. died by suicide in 2020, so it’s critical to watch for warning signs and act if needed. 
  • Compassion and continuing support are essential. If your friend or loved one agrees to get help and sees a counselor or other mental health professional, your role is to stay in that person’s corner. There are days when your friend won’t want to see a therapist, so be encouraging and steadfast. Professional help may involve antidepressants or medicine like ketamine.
  • Set boundaries about what help you can provide, and remember to take care of yourself.

Depression is often a life-long illness, but your friend or loved one can get better and regain control of their life with perseverance.

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