How to Manage PTSD Flashbacks

Feb 07, 2023
How to Manage PTSD Flashbacks
PTSD is a debilitating mental health disorder in the deepest parts of your brain. When you have PTSD, the flashbacks can be overwhelming and take over your life. Keep reading to find out how you can effectively manage your flashbacks for good.

Living through a severe trauma isn't easy and often results in a condition known as PTSD. Your mental health is greatly affected after you've experienced a significant event, and you may relieve that event repeatedly through terrifying flashbacks.

The Pacific Phoenix TMS team are experts in treating mental health conditions like PTSD. If you're having trouble coping with the disorder and flashbacks, Dr. Elia R. Gonzalez-Rodriguez is a psychiatrist who offers counseling and other coping mechanisms for PTSD.

What is PTSD?

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental health problem that often severely affects your life and your ability to hold onto a job or relationships. PTSD usually occurs after you've been a witness to a highly stressful event or have lived through dire circumstances.

You may think of PTSD when you think of soldiers and those fighting in the military. Though veterans and active military members often have PTSD, they aren’t alone. Other circumstances that lead to PTSD include the following:

  • Being bullied
  • Living through a natural disaster
  • Being involved in a severe accident
  • Rape or physical assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Being involved in a war
  • Worldwide terrorist attacks

Any highly stressful situation that directly involves you puts you at risk for PTSD symptoms. When you have PTSD, you have extreme thoughts and emotions linked to the event long after it happened.

You might relive the stressful event through nightmares or surreal flashbacks that haunt you day and night. You may even find yourself avoiding certain situations that trigger feelings of the trauma you lived through.

Signs of flashbacks

Flashbacks and nightmares are two ways you relive the trauma related to the event that caused your PTSD. Flashbacks may seem so real you lose touch with reality during the event.

If you're around anything that triggers your PTSD, you may experience a flashback. When this happens, the flashback severely affects your life and causes disruptions in your work and social life.

Flashbacks are also highly unpredictable, especially if you don't know what triggers feelings related to PTSD to arise.

During a flashback, you vividly relive parts of the event that led to your PTSD symptoms. You may feel you're there and have difficulty separating reality from the flashback.

You may be completely unaware of your surrounding environment as the flashback pulls you into the past, making you relive the trauma over and over again.

How to manage your flashbacks

PTSD and flashbacks are incredibly debilitating and make it hard for you to move past the previous trauma you experienced. However, overcoming flashbacks is possible if you take the proper recovery steps.

Our team recommends several techniques to help you manage your PTSD flashbacks. A few of the ways we help you manage your flashbacks include the following:

Understand your triggers

Prevention is crucial regarding flashbacks, which is why knowing your triggers is critical. Anything that reminds you of the trauma you lived through can bring on a flashback.

Once you understand what triggers your emotions related to PTSD, you can attempt to avoid them altogether. If you cannot avoid your triggers, we can help you with coping mechanisms to limit your flashbacks when exposed to a stimulus.

Get support

Finding support from friends, family, and outside sources is a great way to cope with PTSD. For instance, if you know you're heading into a situation where you may be triggered into a flashback, as someone you trust to go with you to support you through the case.

Look for warning signs

There are often subtle signs that a flashback is coming on, and it's essential to be aware of those signs. For instance, you may notice that you're slipping away from your surroundings or you feel dissociated from the people around you.

If you recognize the warning signs that a flashback is coming, you can prepare yourself and others for the emotional event.

Learn grounding techniques

Grounding techniques are a great way to keep in touch with reality when you feel a flashback coming on. Grounding techniques use your five senses to keep you at the moment instead of slipping back into the past.

You can use sounds, touch, smell, sight, or taste to bring you back into the moment. Focus on something around you, such as music or the image of your surroundings. This helps you stay present during a flashback.

Although it's often difficult to ask for help, seeking professional treatment is the best way to manage your PTSD and slow the frequency of flashbacks. 

Call the Pacific Phoenix TMS team today at one of our convenient offices in Salmon Creek or East Vancouver, Washington, to discuss PTSD treatment. You may also request an appointment on our website.