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Identifying Trauma and PTSD Triggers

Identifying trauma and PTSD triggers is a crucial step in managing post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD triggers can be either external or internal. External triggers are elements from a person’s environment that remind them of their traumatic experiences. These can include specific places, people, or situations, such as anniversaries, arguments, certain smells, or even watching a movie that brings back traumatic memories. Internal triggers, on the other hand, are related to the person’s internal state, including thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations like anger, anxiety, sadness, or a racing heartbeat. 


Literature has shown that to identify your triggers, it is important to pay attention to when your PTSD symptoms occur. Reflecting on the situations you were in, the emotions you felt, and the thoughts you had at those times are some examples that could be beneficial. In addition, writing down your experiences can also allow you to recognise specific triggers more clearly and develop strategies to manage them. 


Therapy plays a vital role in helping individuals manage and cope with PTSD triggers and trauma. It provides a safe, confidential environment where individuals can talk openly about their trauma. This support is critical for processing emotions and experiences that might otherwise be overwhelming​. 


Various therapeutic approaches have also been supported by research to be effective in dealing with these. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns that contribute to their PTSD symptoms. Exposure therapy, a form of CBT, involves gradually exposing individuals to their triggers in a controlled environment to reduce the fear and anxiety associated with those triggers. Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy uses bilateral stimulation to help people process and integrate traumatic memories. These therapies help individuals confront and work through their trauma, ultimately reducing the impact of triggers on their daily lives​. 


Restoring Peace is a private mental health centre which provides counselling and

psychotherapy services for children, adolescents, youths, adult individuals, couples

and groups with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and various mental health and

relationship challenges. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848. For periodic updates, we invite you to join our telegram group: https://t.me/restoringpeace.


Keywords: trauma, PTSD, triggers, therapy, CBT, exposure therapy, EMDR


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