One of the most difficult aspects of living with PTSD is that you usually can't control, or always anticipate, when you will be triggered and flooded with anxiety, flashbacks, or panic. These symptoms can interfere with day-to-day activities, but fortunately, learning and utilizing different skills can help you cope with PTSD triggers, even when you're out in public.
"A PTSD trigger is anything that recalls the memory of the traumatic incident. For example, seeing certain people, environments, symbols, sounds or music," Dr. Sheri Jacobson, founder of Harley Therapy, tells Bustle. Further, Anthony Nave, LCSW, a clinician at Mountainside, tells Bustle that while PTSD triggers are unique to each and every person, they are "often implicit memories or broken images, feelings, sensations, sounds, or smells that body and brain can remember subconsciously, but the mind can’t remember explicitly or consciously."
According to the National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI), around 8 million adults in the U.S. live with PTSD, which is classified as a type of anxiety disorder. Common symptoms of PTSD include intrusive thoughts, emotional numbness, anxiety, flashbacks, sleep issues, heightened senses, irritation, and avoidance of people, places, or things that set off traumatic memories.
Because of the nature of this mental health disorder, it is tricky at times to predict exactly where, how, and when these symptoms will be triggered. However, here are seven ways mental health professionals say you can cope with your PTSD when it's triggered in public.