Air Force veteran Ryan Kaono returned from deployments to Saudi Arabia and Iraq a changed man. In 2010, he realized something was wrong. PTSD brought him to the brink of suicide as he relived images of destruction and death through nightmares, flashbacks and daily anxiety attacks.
His wife Alessa described the difficulty of watching her husband’s struggles. “You feel helpless,” she said. “I described it as having an animal or child unable to speak, yet you know they’re feeling something. You see a look in their eyes that they’re suffering but you don’t know what you can do to help them.”
Certain triggers can set off your PTSD. Understanding them and managing the symptoms could save your life, even if you’re not a decorated combat veteran.
What are the Triggers?
If you suffer from symptoms of PTSD – from injury caused by an accident or combat – it’s expected situations or triggers will activate it. Here are several to be aware of:
- Seeing someone related to the trauma, or who may have been there with you. Someone else may have a physical trait that acts as a reminder.
- Thoughts and emotions, like fear, helplessness, stress, could activate symptoms.
- An object, even the shape of an everyday item, can surface traumatic memories and trigger PTSD.
- Scents from a barbecue grill or smoke from a firecracker can be intertwined with traumatic memories.
- PTSD symptoms can be triggered if you go back to the location of the trauma, or even visit someplace that acts as a reminder, like a dark alley or forest.
- TV programs, news reports, social media, mobile phone apps can all work as triggers and cause symptoms to flare up.
- Feelings are powerful triggers, especially fear or anger. Sense of touch is another one, if it’s on a body part which could end in a painful flashback.
Can the effects of triggers and PTSD be managed with medication? Yes. The VA has conducted research with many universities and organizations to study the efficacy of antidepressants like ketamine and believes it offers relief for harmful thoughts, memories, and behaviors associated with PTSD.
- The sounds of specific songs, noises, or voices may suggest memories of the event.
- The taste of a beverage or food could remind you of trauma.
- You may associate situations with the trauma, like being stuck in an elevator or a crowd of people at a sporting event.
- People who suffer a traumatic event never forgot the anniversary of the occurrence. If you survived the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, that date will always trigger a reaction of some sort.
Do You Know How to Recognize Triggers?
Triggers that cause PTSD symptoms can be obvious or subtle. And if they are subtle, you may not be aware of it until a reaction settles in. Some people say their symptoms came out of nowhere; truthfully, they’re normally caused by an unrecognized trigger.
Feelings of danger or hyperventilation is a sign that you’ve had a PTSD trigger. A licensed professional can help you identify causes and teach you how to cope with the disorder.
What are Risk Factors?
Imagine the horror a NY firefighter faced when racing to the scene of the 911 attacks, or a combat soldier in Vietnam at the height of war. Now you may comprehend the effects of postponed mental disorder on someone suffering from PTSD. Not all survivors who walk away unharmed will experience PTSD, but those who are injured could carry with them risk markers outlined by the National Institute of Mental Health:
- Survived a terrifying trauma or event.
- Suffered major psychological or physical harm.
- Acted as a witness when someone else was killed or badly injured.
- Experienced a childhood trauma.
- Memories of a past even resurface feelings of helplessness, horror, or severe fear.
- Doesn’t have access to a support network after the trauma.
- Victimized by extreme stress attributed to pain and injury, the death of a family member, loss of home, or financial sufferings.
- Struggles with mental illness or substance abuse.
Triggers Are a Warning
You wonder if you have PTSD. A guy in your platoon has it, says you might, too. The symptoms, like firecrackers in your brain, are a warning that you probably need help. After talking with a doctor or therapist, treatment plans are reviewed, including talk therapy and drugs like ketamine.
According to Yale, ketamine has fast and vigorous antidepressant effects when provided at low doses. There is much interest in ketamine and comparable drugs as a possible treatment for PTSD and depression because they work differently in the brain than conventional antidepressants and could work if other treatments have failed.
If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD or have questions about Ketamine we would like to invite you to reach out for a free phone consultation to learn more.