What is PTSD?
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. PTSD can occur after someone has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event that involved their belief of being threatened of injury or death.
- Traumatic events could include car accidents, rape, assault, war, natural disaster, etc. The stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including mental, emotional and physical well-being.
What are Flashbacks?
Flashbacks are one of several symptoms that accompany PTSD. In a flashback, a person may feel or act as though the traumatic event is occurring all over again, making it very difficult to cope with. A flashback could be brief, with having some awareness to the present moment.
However, a flashback could also make someone lose all connection of what is going on around them, creating a feeling as if they are being taken completely back to their traumatic event. For example, a rape survivor who sees men who look similar to her abuser may begin to feel pain in her body similar to that which was experienced during her assault.
WAYS TO COPE
Self Talk: Tell yourself you are having a flashback and that you are ok
Connected to the present moment:
- Tell yourself that the worst is over- it happened in the past and you are ok now.
- Ground yourself to the present by standing up, stomping your feet, etc to remind yourself where you are
- Use your 5 senses: look around the room and point out objects you see around you—listen to the sounds around you—smell something that soothes you
Breathe: breathe in threw your nose and out through your mouth. When people get scared, they tend to breathe too quickly and their body can panic. Slow down your breathing to help relax your body.
Connect to your body: rub your legs so remind yourself you are in the present moment and safe.
Self Care: flashbacks are exhausting- make sure you take care of yourself after you’ve had a flashback. For instance, take a relaxing bath, journal, play some soothing music, etc
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