An emotional trigger could be anything that causes an extreme emotional reaction. Specific events, experiences, or memories can trigger an intense response because they remind you of a previous traumatic experience, mainly referred to as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
The term triggered is often confused with feeling uncomfortable or angry, but it’s a completely different feeling. Being around something that reminds you of a traumatic experience can make you relive that situation. This feeling can trigger any mental health issue, such as anxiety or a substance abuse disorder. In such events, having access to a close friend or professional therapist can help you cope with it in a healthy way.
Knowing your emotional triggers and how to seek urgent care is crucial for your well-being. Therefore, we’ve created this post to help you deal with triggering situations.
Mental Health Issues Affected by Emotional Triggers
A trigger not only prompts an extreme reaction, but for some, it can cause a recurring mental health condition or increase its symptoms. Here are some common examples.
Anxiety is the most common reaction to an emotional trigger. Individuals with an underlying anxiety disorder may respond to certain situations with fear or panic, experiencing excessive sweating and rapid heartbeat. Some can control their response, while for others anxiety can interfere with their day-to-day life.
Impulse Control Disorders
Individuals with impulse control disorders find it difficult to resist urges to perform certain acts that could harm them—for example, substance use disorder. A person who had substance abuse issues in the past might feel triggered by seeing someone use a certain drug, causing returned cravings or relapse.
An event or memory, mostly involving food and weight, can trigger eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, etc.
Types of Triggers
Internal triggers are the ones that come from within, such as a physical sensations, memories, or emotions.
Here are some examples of internal triggers:
- Feeling overwhelmed, sad, abandoned, out of control, or vulnerable
- Muscle tension
- Feelings of rejection, betrayal, or unjust treatment
- Feeling unneeded
- Being criticized, judged, or teased
- Chronic pain
Such triggers are due to factors, such as a place, person, or situation. It could be an everyday situation that’s ordinary for you, but those living with a mental health issue can feel emotionally distressed.
Here are some common external triggers:
- A news article, TV show, or any other media source that reminds you of a particular traumatic experience
- Arguing with another person
- A person connected to the traumatic experience
- Any sound or smell reminding you of the experience
- A certain time of the day
- A specific location
- Significant dates like anniversaries, birthdays, etc.
- The end of a relationship
Managing Emotional Triggers in the Moment
Understand Your Feelings and Own Them
Whenever you find yourself in a situation that reminds you of a past traumatic event/experience, the first thing to do is acknowledge those feelings. Listen to your mind and body and see how you’re feeling. Is your heart pounding, do you have sweaty palms, extreme rage, sadness, or other emotions? Now remind yourself that it’s completely okay to feel this way.
Remind yourself that the current situation is different from your past experience and how far you’ve come. Such reminders can help you gain control and choose a better response.
Take a Break
If you can, leave the space that’s triggering to you or take a short break. Use breathing exercises when you are on your own, and try to calm yourself
Once you’ve calmed down, talk to someone. Communicating can help take some of the burdens off your chest and prevent you from any action that can harm you or others. If a person’s actions are causing an emotional trigger, you should talk to them to avoid this situation in the future.
Dealing with emotions can be tricky, and sometimes even talking to a close friend may not help. Talking to a professional can help you deal with your feelings in a better way and address the effect of triggers on your mental and emotional health.
How Telemedicine Can Help During These Situations
Telemedicine has made mental health services more accessible than ever. It helps people avoid stigmas and get professional help from the comfort of their homes. If you feel that a situation has triggered a mental health issue, talking to a virtual doctor is the right way to deal with it.
It can be difficult to physically go to a therapist during such situations, so an online consultation will offer you a safe space to confide in a therapist. They will help you identify the reasons behind your triggers, offer guidance and support, and help you practice coping strategies.
TelMDCare is a trusted telehealth platform in the US offering affordable, urgent medical care to those in need. Their healthcare professionals offer online treatment for various mental and physical health issues. Signing up on this platform allows you to speak to an online doctor anytime you need to. Contact them for details.
About the Author
The author is a professional counselor affiliated with a telehealth platform. He offers online counseling and writes informative blogs on mental health issues. His hobbies include reading, swimming, and camping.