Triggered – what does this mean?

What does “being triggered” mean?


Nowadays, being triggered has become a common phrase as many people are using it in a variety of situations, however what exactly is a trigger? A trigger is most often associated with someone who has a history of trauma and it reminds them of the traumatic event, making them feel like they are experiencing the trauma again. Additionally, a trigger can be used in the context of other mental health issues, such as substance use disorders, eating disorders or anxiety, and can be described as anything that prompts an increase or return of symptoms. 

Triggers can vary from individual to individual and while some people may cope with stressful events easier than others, it’s important to consider the impact such events could potentially have on those struggling with mental illness. However, there are two kinds of triggers; internal and external. Internal triggers can be a memory, physical sensation or an emotion and comes from inside the person. Common internal triggers include: anger, anxiety, loneliness, muscle tension, memories tied to a traumatic event, pain and sadness. Other internal triggers include feeling overwhelmed, vulnerable, abandoned and out of control.  External triggers remind the person of their unique experience and come from the environment.  They can be a person, place or specific situation such as movie, tv show or news article, arguing with others, a person connected to the experience, a specific time of day or specific dates, certain sounds, smells, changes to relationships or location related to their experience. 

If you would like assistance managing your triggers, reach out to Safe and Sound Therapeutics. 

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