Do I need therapy if I get “triggered?”

crop unrecognizable man talking to female psychologist

Getting “triggered” is a term that’s thrown around online as way to describe all kinds of reactions like getting angry or getting defensive. But being triggered shouldn’t be a way to insult people or shut down a discussion.

Being triggered is a actually a specific state of being that has a precise meaning for your mental health.

A trigger is a reminder of a traumatic event. It can be a feeling, object, the behavior of another person, the time of year, or even a picture.

When someone experiences the state of “being triggered,” they are experiencing a situation where their current reality and memories blur together. The mind experiences a traumatic memory as if it is happening again, and the body starts to respond.

Sometimes -and this is really wild- the BODY relives the experience even if the mind CAN’T remember the original memory or reason.

Lots of us have triggers, and lots of us get triggered. You do not have to have PTSD or have gone to war to develop triggers, although many servicemembers do get them. You don’t even have to seek therapy for many of your triggers, if your reactions feel manageable and small.

But when the state of being triggered interferes with being able to function in life, that’s when you want to call a therapist.

I’ll give you a personal example.

I was in a serious car accident years ago, from which I have fully recovered. However, every time I make an unprotected left turn, a spot on my spine gets really tense. That’s usually the extent of that trigger. I make the left turn successfully, and go about my day. No therapy needed.

But one day, while I was making an unprotected left turn, my passenger also made a sudden, unexpected movement. I am almost always very calm, but I snapped at them in that moment. If we had continued to argue or if I had a bunch of other outbursts after that, some therapy would have been a good idea. Because I wasn’t really mad at my passenger…I was reacting to the pain and the fear of a past car accident that had nothing to do with them.

If you’re noticing that certain situations really bother you, but you’re happy with the way you handle them and other people are too, you may have a memory, a history, but not necessarily a trauma-related mental health disorder. It’s still okay to go to therapy and talk about it, I think everyone CAN benefit from therapy.

On the other hand, if you’re noticing that certain situations really bother you, and you’re handling of them just makes things worse, makes you feel ashamed, alone, or more upset, and the people around you get concerned or just…leave…that might be a sign that it’s time to get some help right away.

If you want to work with me, you can connect here.

You can also call your insurance company to make a recommendation for you if you’re not sure who to work with.

Catch you soon.

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