Why do flashbacks happen?
Those who struggle with PTSD often find themselves struggling to cope with flashbacks that occur in their daily life. They can be as mild as a feeling of familiarity that goes away after a few seconds or as serious as a complete loss of mind control which places them in the traumatic event while losing touch with the world around them.
This sense of reliving those traumatic memories is an agonizing part of PTSD, often causing the person to use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to dull the symptoms. But, what exactly are flashbacks and how can they be treated?
What are flashbacks?
Flashbacks are an involuntary memory that is relived as a person is transported back in time to the events which caused them grief.
According to some experts, the way that the brain handles memories can trigger these traumatic experiences upon experiencing a stimuli that reminds the person of the event. It can be triggered by the sound of a helicopter flying above them to a large pop of a bottle, all of which could bring to mind events such as having to duck into trenches to avoid enemy fire.
As a result the memories often have little to no relation to the situation at hand, which can cause a severe strain in day-to-day living.
While those with PTSD are at the biggest risk of experiencing flashbacks, there are other reasons why someone might experience flashbacks. This includes those who are chemically dependent on drugs and alcohol as well as those who experience a sudden life trauma.
Sudden Life Trauma
Sudden life traumas include violent and traumatic events such as ambushes on the field, engaging in combat with the enemy, and more. As a result those in the military are often placed at a higher risk of developing flashbacks alongside PTSD. However, it’s not only restricted to those in the military.
Firefighters, EMS, police, and other first responders are also exposed to situations each day which could lead to flashbacks. These situations can include being exposed to a deadly fire that destroyed a building, being faced with a crime scene, among many others.
These life traumas tend to be recurring and are often triggered by a reminder of that event. For example, meeting people who were involved in that event as well as visiting the location where it occurred.
Alcohol and drugs (both illicit and prescription) dull the ability of the human brain to function in a way that removes a dimension of reality and instead replaces it with a heightened sense or high. This is usually done in an effort to dull pain or harsh life experiences in an effort to sleep and function each day.
Flashbacks are also common with some recreational drugs such as LSD or cannabis. With these drugs, flashbacks occur even outside of drug use and are often intense and unpleasant. However, these are often accompanied by images of geometric formations, intense colors, and halos, which are different compared to specific memory flashbacks as a result of PTSD.
Treatment for Flashbacks
Limiting your exposure to these triggers is an effective way of reducing the incidence of flashbacks. However, that’s easier said than done since it doesn’t eliminate the potential for it to occur once more. In order to properly treat the symptoms it’s essential to treat the underlying problem whether it be PTSD or chemical dependency through the help of a counselor or a treatment center such as Warriors Heart.
Once treatment for chemical dependency and PTSD begins, the harmful effects of flashbacks tend to reduce. For this, Warriors Heart offers a large variety of treatments and programs that are tailored specifically for those who stand on the front lines and put their lives on the line for the safety of others.
Help is Here
Warriors Heart proudly serves active military, veterans, firefighters, police, EMS, and other First Responders who have fallen victim to PTSD and chemical dependency. We’re conveniently located in a serene ranch just outside of San Antonio in Bandera, TX. There warriors from across the United States come to seek treatment made specifically for them.