Ways to Overcome PTSD Triggers and develop coping masterplan

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) triggers have the capability of casting a gloomy shadow over our lives by unleashing a flood of uncomfortable feelings and memories. Despite this tremendous opposition, we have an extraordinary strength—the power to conquer. In this post, we’ll go on a voyage of discovery, looking at successful approaches to overcome PTSD triggers and create a personalized coping strategy. Prepare to go on a transformative journey via self-care, support networks, therapeutic alternatives, and empowered behaviors that will reveal a road to healing and resilience. Retake control of your mental health and tap into your inner strength.


  • The term “trigger” refers to a stimulus that wakes or exacerbates the signs of a traumatic experience or psychological condition in a person.
  • Trauma affects each individual differently, regardless matter whether it is a single traumatic experience or a string of them.
  • The purpose of trigger warnings is to alert trauma survivors to potentially upsetting information.
  • Identifying triggers and developing coping strategies is helpful in combating PTSD


What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

In simpler terms, People who have encountered a shocking, terrible, or fatal incident may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Though fear is a common emotion both during and after a traumatic occurrence if it starts to impact the day-to-day life, relationships, and work of an individual and stays for at least one month, it may be an indication of PTSD digging its claws.

Read Blog: Trauma and PTSD: Everything That You Need To Know

How is PTSD Diagnosed? 

You must have specific signs and symptoms from one or more of the following four groups in order to be given a PTSD diagnosis:

  • Flashbacks, unwanted thoughts, or dreams: Flashbacks, unwanted thoughts, or dreams about the traumatic incident are examples of intrusion.
  • Avoidance: avoiding anything that makes you think of the painful incident
  • Cognitive and emotional shifts: having trouble remembering key details of the traumatic experience or having unpleasant thoughts and feelings about oneself or other people
  • Arousal and reactivity changes: Anger flare-ups, irritability, irresponsible or self-destructive actions, or insomnia

To diagnose PTSD it is mandatory for your symptoms to be severe enough to interfere significantly with everyday functioning or your relationships and must continue for more than one month. PTSD symptoms includes all the elements, experiences that brings up upsetting or uncomfortable memories of the traumatic incident has the potential to set off. Knowing what makes your PTSD symptoms worse will help you manage them more effectively.

What are the triggers?

Triggers are sensory cues that bring up unpleasant memories or specific symptoms. A “trigger” is a stimulus that brings up a distressing memory, according to psychology.

You may recall specific scents, sounds, or pictures associated with a traumatic incident and you may have feelings of worry, uneasiness, or panic when you come across these sensory recollections or triggers. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder in war veterans may be triggered by the sound of fireworks (PTSD). Or a particular breed of dog might act as a catalyst for someone who was bitten as a youngster.

The word “trigger” is frequently employed in various mental health situations outside of trauma. Anything that brings on or exacerbates the symptoms of a mental health problem, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or drug use disorder, is referred to as a trigger. For instance, a person with contamination-type OCD may get extremely frightened at the sight of a dirty doorknob. Alternately, the scent of alcohol may set off a substance-abuse disorder in a person who already has a yearning for alcohol.

Triggered- What does it mean?

Nowadays, the word “triggered” is used less formally, which perhaps led to some misunderstanding. However, it’s crucial to understand that there is a distinction between feeling uneasy or offended and experiencing a serious mental health condition. The term “trigger” refers to a stimulus that wakes or exacerbates the signs of a traumatic experience or psychological condition in a person.
Others may be surprised by a person’s powerful response when they are triggered since the response looks out of scale to the stimuli. However, this is because the person who is being triggered is psychologically experiencing the initial trauma. For instance, an unanswered SMS might cause an adult who was abandoned as a kid to become upset.

Read Blog: Risk factors, protective factors, and interventions related to trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

How do triggers form?

According to empirical studies, our senses, such as sight, smell, and sound, are very important in the creation of memories. According to one view, the reason why trauma-related triggers seem so strong is that our senses are so heavily implicated. When we suffer trauma, our brains frequently retain memories of the surrounding sensory inputs. Years later, when we come across similar sensory cues, the brain may then bring back the trauma-related emotions. Sometimes, the reason we are fearful or angry may not even be clear to us. For instance, specific songs can serve as triggers for years to come if you had a severe vehicle accident while listening to them. 

Trauma affects each individual differently, regardless matter whether it is a single traumatic experience or a string of them. In fact, two people may react very differently to the same situation. The other person may acquire PTSD while the first person may come to terms with a traumatic event. Numerous reasons might be the cause of this variation in reaction. According to studies, a person’s response to a traumatic incident relies on a number of elements, including the:

  • Personality characteristics and sociocultural background of an individual
  • The event’s specific qualities
  • A stage in a person’s emotional development
  • The significance of the trauma to the person

Different types of PTSD Triggers

When PTSD is present, triggers can be divided into two groups: internal triggers and external triggers. Things that you feel or encounter inside your body are known as internal triggers. While external triggers are people, places, or circumstances that you could come into contact with during the day, internal triggers include ideas or memories, emotions, and physical sensations (such as your heart racing) (or things that happen outside your body). Each person has their own specific triggers, which might be of any size or shape. Here are a few typical internal and environmental causes.

Internal triggers

  • Anger\Anxiety
  • Feeling deserted
  • Feeling alone
  • Facing uncontrollablility
  • Vulnerability
  • Frustration
  • Memories
  • Tense muscles
  • Suffering Rapid heartbeat
  • Sadness

External Triggers

  • Celebration
  • A dispute
  • Some odors
  • Relationship’s end
  • Holidays
  • Reading a news story that makes you think about your horrific experience
  • Seeing a person who makes you think of someone associated with your unpleasant experience
  • A particular location
  • Watching a film or TV show that triggers memories of your painful experience
  • Seeing a vehicle collision

Identifying Your Triggers

Consider your typical PTSD symptom onset times. To discover your triggers, pose the following questions to yourself: What kinds of circumstances are you facing? What is going on in the area? What feelings are you experiencing? Which and what kind of ideas are you having? What sensations does your body have? Outline as many internal and external triggers as you can on a piece of paper.

Some PTSD triggers are simple to foresee and recognize. For instance, you might anticipate that passing the location of your sexual assault would probably trigger flashbacks of the occurrence. Many triggers, however, are more difficult to anticipate and could arrive out of nowhere or catch you off guard.

These cautions may undoubtedly be helpful to certain PTSD sufferers, especially if they are at that specific time vulnerable. On whether trigger warnings are ultimately beneficial, there is some disagreement. According to studies, trigger warnings serve to reaffirm a survivor’s perception that their experience is core to who they are, which is detrimental to the healing process.

Real-world examples of PTSD triggers

Though they might differ from person to person, PTSD triggers are typically connected to your senses, such as sight, smell, or sound. Additionally, some lifestyle elements, such as a lack of sufficient social support, might exacerbate PTSD episodes. The 20 unique triggers that might cause PTSD symptoms are listed below. Remember that each person has a different experience with PTSD and its symptoms. Your triggers might not be the same as the ones given below.

  1. Panic: A number of years ago, you were involved in an automobile accident and fought to unlock the door latch. For a brief but terrifying period, you were stranded inside the automobile. You are now unable to release the door latch to a stall in a public bathroom. You could feel anxious as you go back to the vehicle accident from a few years ago.
  2. Medical attention: Even making an appointment for a normal checkup with your doctor after being diagnosed with cancer makes your PTSD symptoms worse. As a result, after suffering from medical stress, you can skip all visits.
  3. Loud noises: If you have experience living or fighting in a war zone, you could be easily startled and on edge by loud, sudden noises like crackers or a car backfiring.
  4. Discrimination: You experience emotional distress when you witness racial discrimination because it brings up painful memories of your own past experiences with racism.
  5. Words: Words, even expressions like “I love you,” are said or murmured that are reminiscent of those used during a sexual assault or physical abuse. You come across someone who has an accent or a tone of speech similar to your offender.
  6. Angry voices: When someone speaks to you angrily or raises their voice, it reminds you of the times you were shouted at and verbally abused as a youngster.
  7. Physical characteristics: You come across someone who physically resembles the traumatized in some way, such as having a nose that is similar to theirs or walking in a particular way.
  8. Music: You hear a particular song, such as the one that was on the radio the day you escaped a natural disaster or that was playing at the bar the night you were the victim of a sexual assault.
  9. Smell: The aroma of whiskey makes you think of a time when you smelled alcohol. Or perhaps the scent of coal burning brings to mind the fire you managed to escape.
  10. Touch: When a buddy puts their hand on your shoulder, it makes you think of a time when you suffered from sexual assault.
  11. Taste: Consuming hot meals makes you remember the time your abuser had you eat something as hot.
  12. Objects: A kitchen knife brings to remember a time when a robber brandished a blade at you.
  13. Re-entering the trauma site: Passing the same structure where you were abused leads you (mentally and emotionally) back to the incident.
  14. Similar locations: Even if it’s not exactly where the tragedy occurred, going to the lake or beach makes you remember a time you almost drowned.
  15. Date and time: Your distressing experience occurred at eleven o’clock. Since then, you’ve been remembering the occurrence around midnight.
  16. Notes on age: Your child recently celebrated the same birthday as you did when you went through a painful situation that might set off your PTSD symptoms.
  17. Arguments or disagreements: Every time you dispute or argue with someone, you are reminded of the verbal fights you had with your ex.
  18. Loss of a loved one: When a friend suffers the loss of a close friend, you are reminded of the sorrow you had when family members perished as a result of neighborhood violence.
  19. Colors: You spot an automobile that is identical to the one you were driving when you were in a car accident.

Read Blog: Trauma: How to Manage health when grappling with trauma?

How to cope with PTSD triggers? 

In order to determine which individuals, events, and things are likely to result in stress reactions, try to identify what causes your PTSD symptoms. By doing so, you may prepare ahead of time and have techniques ready for when triggers arise. Coping mechanisms will enable you to control your trauma reaction as it arises when you are triggered. For instance, deep breathing exercises can help you control your behavior if you experience extreme panic and freeze up. Other coping mechanisms might be useful as well:

  • Find constructive ways: Find constructive ways to momentarily divert your attention from the memories or intense feelings that are awakened. Creative and leisurely pursuits like painting, music, watching comedies, or journaling can help you cope with challenging situations.
  • Try meditating: Meditation can also be an effective strategy for lowering anxiety. The results of empirical studies show that practicing mindfulness meditation may significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and sadness. You can even attempt mindfulness techniques informed by trauma.
  • Practice relaxing method: Practice relaxing methods include deep breathing, meditation, muscular relaxation, listening to calming music, or connecting with nature.
  • Divert attention: Use your ideas to temporarily divert attention away from your triggers. For example, try counting backward from 100, making a list of all the things that come to mind that begin with the letter “A,” or identifying as many states as you can.
  • Get moving: Any kind of physical activity, such as dancing around your house, enjoying ping-pong, or going on a stroll, can help you stay conscious.
  • Confide in people whom you trust: Don’t forget to confide in individuals you can trust. By doing so, you’ll probably feel less alone and more understood. When you are triggered, the members of your support system could also be able to assist you.
  • Try journaling: Journaling is one way to help individuals deal with the trauma of any kind. People with a variety of physical and mental health issues have been proven to benefit physically and psychologically via expressive writing. The low cost of journaling is one of its advantages.
  • Be mindful of perspective: As soon as you start to get upset, attempt to step back and assess the issue. Recognize the source of these strong emotions, which is probably not the trigger itself but rather a past traumatic event.
  • Keep in mind that you are secure: Try inhaling slowly and deeply while also reminding yourself that you are now secure. If it helps you, you might mentally repeat a mantra. I am safe, you can tell yourself. Then, this is not.
  • Practice self-compassion and acceptance: To the best of your ability, try not to get angry with yourself for having these sentiments. Instead, practice self-compassion and acceptance. Compassionately treat oneself as you would a close family member.
  • Try grounding exercises: These might help you return to the present when triggers arise. These emphasize assisting you in identifying your location, frequently by utilizing your body. Keeping your attention on your five senses will help you stay grounded when a PTSD trigger occurs. For instance:
    • List five objects that are currently visible (such as your bedroom wall).
    • Describe four feelings you have currently (like the air conditioner breeze on your skin).
    • identify three sounds that you can notice (such as music playing).
    • List two odors you can detect (like your usual perfume).
    • Describe a flavor you can currently experience (such as any aftertaste of grapefruit in your mouth).
  • Stay in present moment: People occasionally find it beneficial to use their thoughts to bring them back to the present. For instance, make a mental note of the day and year of your current residence. Identifying your triggers and reminding yourself that you’re not constantly in immediate danger may also be helpful.

Read Blog: Try these self help strategies to manage PTSD

Get treatment for PTSD

If your coping mechanisms alone aren’t effective enough for you, discuss your trauma and PTSD triggers with your healthcare professional. They can suggest a mental health expert who can both treat your PTSD and assist you in identifying the circumstances that are most likely to set off its symptoms. Psychotherapy and medication are frequently used to treat PTSD.

Additionally strongly advised for coping with PTSD is treatment. The most popular therapy for effective coping are the ones listed below: 

Access to efficient, scientifically supported trauma treatments may be life-changing.

Read Blog: Know this about EMDR

Have a Safety Plan in Place to manage PTSD triggers

Although it is crucial to becoming more conscious of your triggers, doing so might be upsetting. In certain cases, trying to pinpoint one’s triggers might actually set them off. In order to avoid any anxiety, make sure you have a safety plan in place before you take any action to discover your triggers. A safety plan is intended to keep you safe when you are unexpectedly faced with a challenging circumstance or crisis. In essence, it is a method of preparing in advance for potential challenges. What would you do, for instance, if a flashback started while you were in the grocery store? How would you handle distracting ideas in a professional setting?

Consider whether you could come across any PTSD triggers before you leave the house. Determine what those potential triggers could be and how to prevent them. If you are unable to avoid your triggers, devise numerous coping mechanisms for them (mentioned above). In other words, developing your PTSD safety plan should start with learning how to recognize and manage PTSD triggers.

1. Do I have PTSD triggers? How can I identify them?

With PTSD, a trigger is something that brings on memories or reminders of a traumatic event. For example, flashbacks are often prompted by a trigger. The flashback causes you to feel as though you’re reliving the traumatic experience (or some parts of it) all over again. This can include reliving the emotions or body sensations you felt during the traumatic event.

Many different things can trigger your PTSD symptoms, such as: 

  • Visual images
  • Noise
  • Smells
  • Colors
  • Food
  • Even the weather 
  • Certain locations
2. How Can You Recognize Triggers?

Some are plain to see. Some are subtly veiled. In fact, you might not even be aware of a trigger until you experience a reaction. Your PTSD symptoms could seem to appear out of nowhere. But an unknown trigger frequently results in them. A PTSD trigger might make you feel as though your life is in danger.

3. Trigger warning- what does it mean?

The purpose of trigger warnings is to alert trauma survivors to potentially upsetting information. These alerts first appeared in internet communities for sexual trauma sufferers, where users would inform other users of impending content. But nowadays, a wide range of situations, including social media, entertainment, and instructional settings, incorporate trigger warnings. You could receive trigger warnings for the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • sexual assault
  • Incest
  • A child abuse
  • Racism
  • disorders of eating
  • mistreatment or suffering of animals
  • transphobia or homophobia
  • Suicide or self-harm
  • Abortion or miscarriage
  • Body shaming


Finding effective coping methods and building a personalized masterplan are critical in the fight against PTSD triggers. Individuals may retake control of their mental health by practicing self-care, seeking assistance, researching therapeutic choices, and implementing good habits into everyday life. Remember that overcoming PTSD triggers is a journey, but with resilience, drive, and the correct tools, you can have a better and more satisfying future. You are characterized not by your trauma, but by your ability to overcome it.

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