Types of Re-Experiences in PTSD

 Types of Re-Experiences in PTSD

Types of Re-Experiences in PTSD_ichhori.webp

A basic symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder is re-experiencing or having unexpected and undesired unpleasant memories intrude into or even appear to replace what is happening now (PTSD). If you have PTSD, you have probably experienced re-experiencing symptoms.


The specific material re-experienced differs from person to person based on their trauma history, but the method this trauma is re-experienced is typically similar among people with PTSD. Re-experiencing symptoms include:

  • Having disturbing thoughts or memories of a tragic experience regularly

  • Having persistent nightmares

  • Being physically sensitive to recollections of the terrible occurrence (for example, feeling a surge in your heart rate, or starting to sweat)

  • When reminded of the horrific experience, experiencing intense distress

  • Having the sense that the horrific incident is replaying again, also known as a flashback

Flashback Re-Experiences

Flashbacks can be especially terrifying for persons suffering from PTSD. A flashback, unlike typical recollections, is thought to be happening right now, replacing the current scene.

If you've ever had a flashback, you'll know that the flashback's emotions and bodily sensations, such as sights, noises, smells, tastes, and body reactions, are all the same and potentially just as painful. During a flashback, you may lose all awareness of your current circumstances and experience the trauma as if it were happening again.

Unfortunately, most people who have flashbacks are unable to recognize them as such.

Researchers discovered that most flashbacks center on the "Warning! Watch out!" moment when the person first perceived the threat of danger at the time the incident happened. This explains why people experiencing flashbacks may take sudden and powerful protective responses, sometimes inflicting injury to themselves or others—they are currently feeling highly threatened.

Other Types of Re-Experiences

Other sorts of re-experiencing exist. For example, when recalling a painful occurrence, you may have had present-moment thoughts such as "Why did it happen to me? " or "How might I have prevented it?" You may even consider how the trauma has impacted your life.

  • People suffering from PTSD frequently have these ideas, and some may have them more frequently than flashbacks or other re-experiences.

  • Re-experiencing also entails revisiting your painful experience in a secure setting with a therapist.

Common Triggers

Another reason re-experiences can be so scary is that most people with PTSD have no idea when or what will trigger them. When a trigger occurs unexpectedly, it looks to "appear out of nowhere."

Stories in the Media

News reports about horrific incidents might provoke re-experiencing symptoms, especially if they are comparable to your own traumatic event. It may surprise you, however, that this can occur even with reported incidents (or elements of them) that have little to do with people's personal experiences.

Exposure to any type of traumatic incident (even on television) might result in re-experiencing symptoms.

This fact can be difficult for individuals who do not have PTSD to comprehend, and this lack of comprehension might further alienate you from your symptoms.

Other Personal Triggers

Other trigger cues may be momentary sensations from a person's traumatic incident, such as a tone of voice, the way light falls on an object, or a touch or movement of a bodily part.

Does Re-Experiencing Predict PTSD?

A person's intrusive re-experience of a traumatic event is prevalent very soon after it occurs. However, this does not guarantee that the individual will acquire PTSD.

Researchers are unsure why some people acquire PTSD after a distressing event while others do not. Experts feel that addressing the experience with a qualified therapist can reduce the likelihood of developing PTSD.

Treatment Options

Treatment for PTSD can be quite beneficial in reducing the recurrence of symptoms. In addition to typical PTSD treatment choices, treatments such as grounding techniques can be very helpful in helping people "anchor" themselves in reality and lessen the risk of experiencing a flashback. Grounding strategies include listening to loud music and sniffing pungent peppermint.

It is critical to know when grounding procedures are required for them to be most effective. Many persons with PTSD find it beneficial to recognize their triggers and develop ways to decrease or manage them before resorting to grounding techniques.

Imagery rehearsal therapy may be beneficial for persons who have PTSD-related nightmares.

A Word From Ichhori

Re-experiencing is a basic symptom of PTSD and may be unsettling, not to mention draining, for a person who is confronted with their trauma yet again. Re-experiencing does not imply that you have PTSD, as these symptoms can occur after a stressful experience even in persons who do not acquire PTSD.

Finding a good therapist, on the other hand, is crucial. A therapist can help you manage your PTSD or lower your chances of developing it in the future. Ideal for those who suffer from PTSD-related nightmares. 

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