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What are PTSD Flashbacks and What can you do to cope with them?

Disabling PTSD-familiar memories can produce feelings of control and safety. There are ways to help you feel better during these triggers.

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The widespread misconception that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) mainly affects soldiers who have returned from combat is widely held. In actuality, PTSD can happen to anyone who has a severe amount of life tragedy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, although the precise etiology of PTSD is unknown, doctors think that experiencing or hearing about a life-threatening event can lead to the development of the disorder. Traumatic events that might cause PTSD include combat or war, child abuse, sexual violence, physical assault, and natural catastrophes.

It’s crucial to understand that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event goes on to acquire post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and research indicates that specific risk factors may increase a person’s likelihood of doing so. According to the Mayo Clinic, some risk factors include having a family history of mental health disorders, going through trauma as a young child, going through severe trauma for extended periods of time, and not having a strong support network in place following the event.

Flashbacks are a prominent symptom of PTSD listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that is taken into account when making an official diagnosis of the illness (per National Library of Medicine). When someone experiences dissociative reactions, often known as flashbacks, they act and feel as though their past trauma is happening right now. These flashbacks can be quite distressing and make it seem like the person is reliving their experience. There is, nevertheless, a chance that someone can learn to control and handle their flashbacks.

What Techniques Can You Use To Deal With Flashbacks?

There are therapeutic alternatives available if you experience distressing flashbacks to your trauma and think they would be of use to you. According to Talkspace, those who have experienced trauma may gain from psychotherapy. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) strongly suggests cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as one of the best treatments for PTSD. Through CBT, people with PTSD can learn how to alter their emotional reactions to flashbacks of the original traumatic incident. A CBT counselor can help you get a deeper understanding of the traumatic incident and can help you plan and get ready for the next time you have a flashback. Another CBT technique is called stress inoculation training (SIT), where a medical professional can instruct you in breathing exercises and other symptom-relieving coping mechanisms.

There are self-care techniques you can attempt in addition to treatment that might help you deal with flashbacks more easily. Flashbacks typically have a specific cause, such as coming across someone, somewhere, or something that makes you think of the terrible experience (per GoodRx Health). You might be able to avoid unneeded exposure to your individual triggers by becoming aware of them. A fantastic approach to keep track of your flashbacks and the triggers that brought them on is to keep a notebook. Using your senses of scent and touch with relaxing materials can help you get grounded during a flashback by helping you practice mindfulness.

Next, read this: How Might Trauma From Childhood Affect Mental Health As We Age?