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What are triggers and how do I know if I have one?

169 Answers
Last Updated: 03/16/2022 at 1:29am
1 Tip to Feel Better
Moderated by

Johanna Liasides, MSc


I work with youth and young adults to help them improve depressive symptoms and self-esteem as well as effectively address family, relationship and peer conflicts.

Top Rated Answers
August 17th, 2016 10:15pm
Let's say I have a memory of a friend passing away due to a car crash, If someone mentions something on the lines of that then that would "trigger" me. I could feel anxious and uncomfortable. Triggers depend on the person.
August 18th, 2016 4:12am
Triggers can be many things. Smells, words, people, textures any stimuli can be atrigger if it relates to the event or activity from the past. Triggers can make people feel as though they are back in traumatic situations. Triggers can also effect those with addiction. For example being in an area where one used to use can be triggering.
May 26th, 2018 6:27pm
Triggers are sights, sounds, smells or even feelings that can bring back memories of trauma. After a trigger intense emotional and physical reactions, such as raised heart rate, sweating and muscle tension can take place. the best way of coping with triggers is to avoid them altogether. But if not possible there are healthy coping mechanisms you cam use such as Relaxation or social support.
February 12th, 2020 12:30pm
Triggers are automatic responses to situations that have been traumatizing in your past. Trigger responses are often abrupt and are characterized by the sensation of something "just happening to you" that is out of your control. You might suddenly feel like a completely different person or like you have multiple sides to your person. An efficient way to handle triggers is to identify the source of the trigger, process the emotions involved in the source, map the situations in which the triggers appear and choose new ways of being in these particular situations. Give yourself time to heal.
February 20th, 2020 9:48am
I think a good indicator is that you feel a strong emotional reaction to what is going on at the moment. But equally - and may confusingly - I think the alternative is that you may feel numbness as if there is no feeling at all. I think this is because there is so much going on internally that there is no clear way to identify what to feel. It is probably this second scenario where mindfulness can help to disentangle what some of the more subtle feelings are. Personally, I find that if I am triggered I feel a strong sense of shame and a need to be away from people. And it is difficult for me to reflect on what exactly is going on until I settle down and reflect.
November 21st, 2021 5:32am
Hello! As someone diagnosed with PTSD, triggers are often words, topics, items, actions, noises, etc., that can bring about negative associations for someone with trauma. For example, if someone is a recovering alcoholic, being at a party where everyone is heavily drinking can be a trigger. For me personally, I have sexual trauma, so feeling as if I am restrained and have little bodily autonomy in a situation can be a trigger. If something specific brings about flashbacks, anxiety, panic attacks, negative feelings, etc., then you may have a trigger. It is helpful to identify these in order to learn about your trigger. Personally, I worked with a therapist who encouraged exposure therapy with trusted individuals. This did not completely eliminate the triggers, but it made them more manageable and helped me to avoid panic attacks. Identifying a trigger is generally the first step.
August 18th, 2016 5:37am
Triggers are things that make you feel or think of something you've experienced in the past, or are currently experiencing. You can tell if you have any triggers if someone brings something up in a conversation or read something, and it makes you think back and feel angry, sad, or regretful as you may have when you experienced said thing.
August 20th, 2016 10:05pm
A trigger is something that can set off a specific negative memory that a person has or a negative event. Triggers are very personal and are different for each person. The term is used to describe an experience that "re-triggers" a trauma that that person has experienced. Triggers usually evoke negative feelings and emotions in a person and the trigger can come in many forms such as photos or words.. How do you know if you have one? If a specific topic or thing makes you upset because it reminds you of something negative that has occurred in your past, then that would be a trigger for you.
August 26th, 2016 10:16am
when you feel irritable and want to snap at people at he slightest annoyance. This will indicate you are in a bad mood or having mood swings.
September 3rd, 2016 11:01pm
A trigger is a specific thing that makes you uncomfortable, whether that be mildly or extremely. It can almost be seen as a phobia. You know you have a trigger if, for instance, someone starts talking about something and you feel uncomfortable, angry, or upset. It can be anything: triggers are NOT just a few things.
September 4th, 2016 6:12am
Triggers are thoughts, scents, people, sounds that can trigger a panic attack, anxiety attack, or depressive episode etc., a trigger is something that makes your mind or body do or think involuntary things.
September 7th, 2016 10:22am
A trigger is a specific set of circumstances that cause a pronounced negative effect on a person. In formal psychiatry, a trigger is often given in relation to a mental illness like Post Traumatic Stress DIsorder. The word has been misused in modern society to reflect something that makes someone uncomfortable. It is best looked at as an event, situation, or action that causes intense distress and a fight or flight response in an individual with a defined illness. If you have a negative response to a situation, it is best to speak to a therapist or psychologist to come up with a treatment plan to deal with these events.
September 15th, 2016 6:03am
Triggers are anything that may bring up an unpleasant memory or feeling. A trigger may make you feel sad, scared, lonely, or depressed.
September 15th, 2016 7:40am
Triggers are things that set us off, or make us feel upset over something that's happened. I know I have one if someone says something that's happened to them, and it causes me to have a flashback/emotions based on something I've gone through.
September 22nd, 2016 10:55am
Triggers are when something causes you to feel a certain way or do a certain things. They're usually on the negative side of things
September 30th, 2016 11:36am
Triggers are topics or situations that make you feel disturbed or uncomfortable, either because they make you think of a horrible experience or because they're simply upsetting to you. At least in my experience, you don't know if you have a trigger until you experience being triggered.
October 6th, 2016 1:34pm
The only way to really know is giving it time and seeing what makes you react each time. Eventually, you sense a pattern. For example, I can't eat garlic. It took me a while to figure it out, but I eventually eliminated the options and realized my bad reactions were to garlic.
October 20th, 2016 12:52am
A trigger is an emotional response to a person, situation, event, or even a type of media (a song, movie, or book). The response can be varied, whether it be rage, sadness, anxiety, or something else. You may not realize at first that something is a trigger for you, and you might find yourself confused as to how or why you're feeling this way, and react without realizing that it's because you were triggered. I would suggest trying to remember things that happen prior to these sudden emotional changes, and finding the common links. This will help you to figure out whether or not you have a trigger, and what it could be. I hope this helps!
November 4th, 2016 10:02pm
Triggers are certain things that cause your anxiety to worsen. To know if you have one, try recording every time you have more anxiety than usual, and see if there is a repeating subject that causes it.
November 9th, 2016 12:24am
If something reminds you of something that happened to you that make you feel unconformable or uneasy.
November 16th, 2016 5:28pm
Triggers are something that "trigger" a bad memory or experience. You may have one if you experience bad memory flash backs when something similar is brought up.
November 20th, 2016 4:38pm
A trigger is a subject varying from person to person, bringing them back to a traumatic experience in their life. If something was brought up into the conversation that makes you think of something terrible that happened to you in the past, you might start to feel anxious and start thinking about that moment in your life.
November 30th, 2016 2:08pm
Triggers are basically situations (be it people, places, words, songs, sounds, smells, tastes or something else) that brings back some kind of negative memory or feeling. Triggers can make the person feel depressed, have panic attacks/anxiety attacks or any other reaction. Everyone has different triggers, depending on which life experience they've gone through. To know if you have a trigger, just be attentive as to when you feel strong negative reactions (such as I mentioned, feeling depressed, anxious or having some kind of panic or anxiety attack) and what may have caused it. You can even keep a journal, if you end up having many negative reactions, and keep track of what triggered each thing - it may be helpful.
December 29th, 2016 3:18pm
Triggers are actions or words that spring up unwanted feelings or emotions in you. They are dangerous and can cause relapses. If you feel evoked by them the you know.
December 30th, 2016 1:00am
A trigger is something that brings forward emotions in you based on your previous experiences. My boyfriend likes to say that life is full of triggers. I would say that a problematic trigger would be one that brings forward emotions that you still have yet to tackle or that still wound you in some way. For example, if you have been trapped in an elevator and experience panic when approaching a confined area, you may be experiencing one of your triggers.
January 18th, 2017 6:40pm
Triggers are things or topics that are closely related to a traumatic event you may have experienced. For example, one of my triggers is beer bottles clinking together. This is because I grew up in a home with alcoholics. That sound "triggers" memories that are closely associated with negative events, thus causing panic attacks, anxiety, or sadness. Triggers can be sounds, words, images, concepts, or even smells and tastes. If you ever feel overwhelmingly anxious or sad seemingly out of nowhere, evaluate your environment and see if there's anything that happened that makes you feel especially upset. If this specific thing causes you to feel that way again, it's likely that is a trigger for you. It's hard to avoid triggers sometimes, but by being aware of what sparks our negative memories we can better control how often we are confronted by these feelings.
February 8th, 2017 1:21am
Similar to how a trigger causes a bullet to be released from a gun, triggers in life can be anything that causes or leads a specific behavior to occur. For example, I have anxiety that causes panic attacks. Whenever I am in uncomfortable situations that stress me out, I can have a panic attack. Although this is a very general example, stress in this scenario would be my trigger. Identifying your trigger can help you to overcome problems that you may be facing. Once you know what the problem is, you can work towards finding a solution to that problem to prevent the trigger from leading to the behavior.
February 23rd, 2017 6:29pm
A trigger is something that sets off a memory or flashback taking the person back to the event of her/his original trauma. Triggers are very personal, and vary from one person to another. The senses identified as being the most common to trigger someone are sight and sound, touch and smell. These triggers can create a combination of sensations, calling back a difficult or traumatic past event you've been through. You do know that you have one, when you relive the event as if it was happening right now, including all the sensations and feelings of that moment.
February 24th, 2017 12:12pm
Any stimuli that make you react in a certain way, is a trigger, for example, if you are sensitive to certain issues for eg, role of women, men, family, etc, and someone say a derogatory stuff about it, you will find it difficult to bear that person, you may be angry or indulge in heated argument with that person, so those specific issues are here are triggers, and that person's derogatory comments on it are triggering actions for you, to know about your triggers, retrospect wat were the things in the past that made you behave certainly in a predictable way, introspection is also needed to know Wat are the things whose mentioning in a certain way, whose sight, or sound even make you behave and react in a certain way,
March 8th, 2017 9:49pm
Triggers are usually a certain person, topic, etc. that gives you an off feeling and you don't feel okay around others to talk about it, or you know you'll get into a heated conversation out of it. You'll know when you have a triggered conversation or topic or even person.