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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
Greece
Moderated by

Johanna Liasides, MSc

Psychologist

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
peacefulSunrise5464
December 8th, 2019 9:33pm
Triggers are any sensory experience (touch, smell, noise...) that put you in a real distress or anguish. I would argue it’s on the level of a phobia, which is to say you can find no way to overcome it and it takes you over, preventing you from doing anything else. It’s near always linked to a traumatic experience (think shell shock for soldiers, for example). It’s difficult to know for sure if you have a trigger, it’s a personal feeling. Is there any moment when you encountered this thing that potentially triggered you, without there being a trigger effect? Can you think of a traumatic experience linked to it? There are possible clues, but you’ll have to listen to your guts on that one
imgroot4u
December 28th, 2019 4:53pm
Triggers are those incidents that create a sudden shift in one's mood(mostly showing anger). This happens when one can't control his/her emotions. This is clearly visible in almost every one. And this can be find easily by checking how one is reacting in for unpleasant situations. The faster one reacts to an unexpected incident the more one is termed to have triggers. So, its not a big deal to find if one posses any triggers. Just by evaluating the most recent incidents where one lost his/her control clearly gives a picture of triggers they possess. This just needs one's honest introspection about him/herself to find triggers and eliminate them slowly with sincere efforts
gentleSun78
January 22nd, 2020 9:39am
Triggers are events which cause that feelings and emotions arise. Triggers can be anything. For example: Someone get a bad grade at school or university. It is trigger as due to this event they feel bad. In above mentioned situation feelings of remorse (that they didn't study enough), guilt, depression, hopelessness (if they find exam too hard to pass), anxiety (that they Will fail school or university) can arise. If you start feeling something or get an emotion due to an event it means that this event triggered you and so you know you have got triggers. Emotion or feeling can be of any degree - it can be very mild, almost undetectable and very short term (just some seconds) or very strong, intense and long lasting.
Reskew
January 29th, 2020 6:02am
A trigger is a stimulus- such as a person, place, situation, or thing that contributes to an unwanted behavioral or emotional response. Triggers can cause various responses from anxiety to even flashbacks of an event. For example those struggling with addiction could be triggered by a location they use to use at, this could cause the reaction of obsessing over the desire to use, leading into the individual becoming aggravated, anxious, hyper focused, or even involuntary crying. Becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings and emotions, how your body responds to certain situations, or even trying a triggers worksheet are some ways to work on knowing your own triggers in situations.
Angell
February 2nd, 2020 5:16am
Triggers are stimulus that elicit extreme reactions of any type in a person. when something occurs in front of you or you either hear or see it, directly or indirectly it might bring out a reaction from you. If you have experienced any negative situation which has affected your mental, physiological, emotional state, any future occurrences of similar stimulus might affect you, And that is a trigger for you. For eg, if you have experienced a situation where you were very scared or afraid or nervous and acted out in a way that embarrassed you, any situation in the future of similar type will make you very nervous and you would like to avoid it, that is being triggered by situational factors. I hope this helps.
BrightUnicorn14
March 5th, 2020 8:08pm
Triggers can be a lot of things- triggers in general though are something that cause an emotional/physical reaction. A trigger can be something that stresses a person out or causes anxiety, causing tense muscles or just a situation that makes someone feel uncomfortable due to a past experience or trauma that they have gone through that makes them feel a certain way about a person or situation they are confronted with. A person struggling with substance abuse may feel that family dynamics are a trigger for them, so then, when they see their parent and engage in dialogue with them, they may feel triggered, making them feel like they need to use drugs to cope with their feelings. However, it does not need to be this extreme- an every day person can experience triggers and triggers are different for every person based on their experience and current life experiences.
snowingdaisies
April 9th, 2020 6:52pm
Triggers are emotions that causes discomfort. It can come so suddenly because you will never know could would arise in a situation. It's best to be self aware of oneself and have an idea of what situations/conversations would provoke you so you can avoid feeling discomfort. I think you will know if you have been triggered if something has sparked discomfort within you. These uncomfortable feelings doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you, just that you had experienced something in the past that might have damaged you in some way. And it is not your fault, it's just a natural defense mechanism.
freshSunshine8864
April 12th, 2020 8:56pm
Triggers are emotional responses to a given situation. Triggers can cause you to explode in anger, or triggers can cause you to shutdown and hide from people. I'll give you an example of what triggers me. 39 years ago I had to go to an airplane crash scene. Middle of winter, the wreck was bad, plane had crashed in an icy river. Only 6 survivors. While I was there I saw a row of passengers still buckled in their seats under the water. Today, every time I go to fill up my gas tank, the smell of gas always reminds me of that time thirty years ago. So, triggers are something that happened at the time of that traumatic incident that will cause you to bring all those emotions that you experienced then to the here and now when a trigger presents itself.
BeyondThis
April 24th, 2020 10:08pm
Triggers are things or environmetal factors that lead to a variety of symptoms. They could make you feel stressed depressed etc. In order to find out if you have a trigger you can try identifying/ tracking what you did when you started feeling a certain way. Were you eating when you felt anxious. Or did you see someone get sick when you felt depressed. All of these can be triggers and its important to identify them. Once you realize that you have a trigger you can try to avoid it or work on being around it while not getting triggered.
Evertonest
May 8th, 2020 6:31am
Triggers are situations, actions, or words that causes you to feel an intense emotion. For example, my dad has called me stupid and scolded me for the smallest of mistakes during my childhood, which made me feel incompetent. One time, when I was driving with my mum, she commented that I should be more careful with my driving. It made me extremely angry because her comment made me feel incompetent, and the feeling of being incompetent is my deepest hurt. To see if you might have a trigger, think about a time where something happened to you, or someone said something to you that 'triggered' a deep hurt from your past. If you subsequently felt an intense emotion (which can include anger and anxiety), the thing that happened to you was a trigger.
Happylistenner
May 17th, 2020 2:42pm
Triggers can be different for everyone. It can be something you hear, see or feel that makes you think about something specific and triggers a certain response. You know if you have a trigger if you see/hear/feel something that reminds you of something hurtful. For example, you just went through a break-up and you are browsing your Instagram and you see a picture of your ex. This might result in you crying or feeling sad, it can also make you feel angry. Seeing the picture is the trigger of your unpleasant emotions you experience afterwards. I hope this answer helps you to understand more about triggers.
txalant
May 17th, 2020 11:58pm
A trigger refers to anything that can remind you of a traumatic experience. It can be a word, an action, an image, an event, a time of day, or any type of stimulus that reminds you of a previously distressing situation. It doesn't have to be frightening or harmful. They're usually specific and related to your personal experience, but they may simply be any small reminder. If you've ever experienced something that caused you to have a flashback or recall your trauma or any particularly distressing memories, then it's likely that you have a trigger. Identifying which experiences and events may be triggering can usually help with avoidance.
Charlotte996
July 2nd, 2020 1:43am
Well, it heavily depends on what you're referring to, as in the context of the question. But to give it a very general definition, a trigger would be something that sets off an intense emotional response. These responses can be both rational and irrational and are likely linked to experiences you've had in your past. They are something that you feel very strongly about. Unfortunately, the words trigger has become construed as a lot of people link it to being dramatic. This is not the case and shouldn't be treated as such. The simplest way I'd say to know whether or not you have a trigger is to check for an intense emotional reaction that seems out of place.
Psychstudies13
July 16th, 2020 5:30am
A trigger is something that causes you to have a negative reaction or causes you to have negative emotions. A trigger is a term that is used with most mood and personality disorders. How do you know you have a trigger? To understand whether or not you have a trigger, you will have to observe yourself in certain situations. Does something someone says or does, affect you? If yes, then is the reaction positive or negative? If it is negative, do these negative emotions happen every time someone says/does that particular thing? If the answer is a yes, then its most likely that it is a trigger for you. Only after observing yourself for a while under the same situation can you tell if its a trigger. There can be multiple triggers. Triggers differ from person to person. What triggers someone else might not trigger you. Once you identify your trigger, you should start to either work on it, or work on strategies on how to remove yourself from a trigger situation. Hope this helps. You can also text me if you need anything more. Have a nice day :D
SpaceCirrina
July 23rd, 2020 12:48am
A trigger is an involuntary response to a stimuli. It can be literally anything. The response could be a strong feeling, a memory, or a sensation. Triggers are usually associated with trauma or crisis. For example, someone's trigger could be being yelled at, being told no, someone standing too close, or heavy breathing. It pulls us into our flight or fight brain. When I left an abusive relationship, I found out one of my triggers was how my computer monitor was turned off. Sometimes it got me, and sometimes it didn't. It doesn't have to upset you every time in order for it to be a trigger either.
girlinred45662
July 25th, 2020 12:07am
Triggers are things that can make you have a mental breakdown, or a panic attack of some sort. Triggers can be songs, topics of conversations, or plots in movies and books. For example my trigger is character death and anything about mental hospitals. You know if you have a trigger if, when seeing or hearing said trigger, you become overly emotional, get anxious, or your mental issue is heightened or 'triggered'. Triggers can be physical, something you can see, something you can hear, or something you can read. It is best to avoid these triggers as they are things that trigger mental issues.
Laurall123
August 5th, 2020 4:00pm
Hey! Glad you asked the question, basically a trigger is a sort of stimulus that can be a smell, sight or noise that can trigger memories of certain experiences. They might not always be bad triggers, for instance when you smell a certain smell it might remind you of someone cooking or a time you went to to an amusement park with your family or friends. However they can be also be just the opposite, sometimes when things happen to us we try to move on by repressing them, virtually shutting any memory of it out of our heads. A little trick to know if you have triggers or not is to pay attention, if you suddenly start to get nervous or warm or angry pay attention to what made you feel that way. Did someone say something that triggered an uncomfortable feeling? Did you hear something that reminded you of bad or maybe even suppressed memory? If so already being able to identify your triggers is a huge step and puts you on your path to getting better :)
RoseAlice99
August 22nd, 2020 5:17pm
Triggers are things that make us distressed. For example if you had anxiety and you was watching the news and it makes you more anxious that is a trigger as it makes your anxiety worse. So if anything makes something worse for you, and makes you feel more negative then that could be a trigger for you. You find out if you have a trigger when you find out a certain situation or place makes you feel worse than what you normally do. I hope this helps you understand what a trigger can be and how 5o find out whether you have one.
Anonymous
August 29th, 2020 6:26pm
Triggers are better known to be something that will set that person to the event of their original trauma, like a flashback. The trigger can be caused through any of the five senses, from sound, sight, smell, touch and taste. It is different for many people. For example, a survivor of domestic violence might be triggered by a film if that film consists of anything that brings them back to the memories or even of when they were being abused. This can be seeing a couple on screen arguing loudly over something that relates to the viewer and their experience to seeing the actual abuse happening. This then will sometimes cause a negative reaction to the person to where they might not feel very well, break down crying or will go through a loop of those memories for a long period of time. There could be a fight-or-flight response associated. Another example, when it comes to smell, could be that if someone was abused in a room that smelled of coffee, then coffee may trigger that person. Or if they are out with friends who drink alcohol and so did the person that caused the trauma, then the breath of someone - even though it is someone else - can cause that person to get triggered and may cause a flight-or-fight response. If someone says a certain phrase or if they hear a certain song that makes the person have a flashback, that is also a trigger. There is also sometimes a tendency with the survivor to actively avoid these situation, places and people if they know it will trigger them or find ways to safeguard themselves (like in a movie, they might see if that movie contains violence, such as domestic abuse). I hope some of these examples could help you know if you have a trigger.
SophieWX
September 19th, 2020 3:09pm
Triggers are stimuli you encounter in life that can bring on painful memories and/or actions. They can be smells, visuals, or sounds, etc. They very commonly appear in PTSD patients or people that have encountered abuse in the past. I don't think it will be hard for you to know, just because the reaction to them is so violent. If something regularly brings on painful memories or cause you to have panic attacks, or if you are aware of having past trauma, then it is likely that that would be your trigger, it would be hard for you to miss.
fortaee
September 24th, 2020 12:26am
Triggers are any sensory inputs that cause you to feel a certain way, make you think about a certain thing, get you considering old or unhealthy coping mechanisms, etc. For a person with ADHD or Autism, a trigger might be a sound (whispering or pencil scratches) that really really bother them. It could cause them to act in a way that is congruous with the symptoms of those conditions. With someone who has an eating disorder or who struggles with self harm, it might be a scene in a movie that references or shows those things. It could cause them to relapse or make them become urge-y. Please note that everyone's experiences with these issues are different, I'm just using generic examples that could very well trigger someone. The same goes for triggers. They differ among people, but this is pretty much the gist of triggers as I know them.
Blake1604
September 25th, 2020 1:15pm
Triggers are anything that brings up memories of past trauma. Triggers can cause you to go into flashbacks, panic attacks, etc. If you have a trigger the first things to look for are the symptoms that you have been triggered. This is like ive said above. Flashbacks, panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and more. When I had ptsd I struggled with all of those symptoms almost constantly. But after intensive therapy I no longer struggle and I haven't had any of those symptoms in about a year. I seriously hope this helps as it is really hard to live with ptsd.
Natalielove250
October 4th, 2020 12:38pm
Triggers can be from a range of things such as places, people, sayings, noises or smells. However there are a lot more. Sometimes there a situations or memories that have impacted you that you may not think about often then all of a sudden you hear or see something that takes you back to that unsettling feeling you had in the past. It can be a moment, feeling, memory that becomes triggering to you. Sometimes to know if you have one is if you feel uneasy about something that has brought up some past issues, or triggering moment has brought a negative effect on you.
wishfulAngel648
January 29th, 2021 1:51am
Triggers are when something or someone can create unsettling emotions like anxiety to a person. For example, if you have gone through a traumatic effect related to a certain thing like cats, then a separate situation arises regarding cats, you may feel anxiety. It is important to know what your triggers are and how to face the situation. At first, it may be challenging and stressful to face triggers. The first and most important step is to identify what your specific triggers are and what emotions the triggers may cause. You can better manage your emotions by identifying your triggers.
SunnyNush
January 31st, 2021 4:30am
Triggers are things that can make you feel anxious, uncomfortable, or upset. They can be about things that you have firsthand experienced or seen in your life and can be caused by someone talking about it. Most people find out if they have a trigger by reacting negatively when someone talks about a certain thing. If you have a trigger, the best thing to do is to talk to a licensed therapist, stop talking about the topic on chats, and update your profile to make sure you can avoid triggering yourself while in the process of trying to help someone else.
insightfulAngel4229
March 4th, 2021 7:18am
A trigger can be anything that reminds you of previous trauma. Examples can be places, songs, certain topics of conversation or certain images. If certain things remind you of past trauma or causes you to have bad reactions (eg. overwhelming feelings and/or flashbacks) then it can be a trigger. You will also find yourself avoiding any situations that might cause these reactions, such as avoiding certain places or people. Triggers can also be internal, these can be memories or certain sensations such as pain. Triggers can really have a negative effect on your daily living, but it can get better! Talking to a trusted person, deep breathing, meditating, and journaling can really help to deal with triggers. If triggers effects your daily living please speak to a professional as they can help equip you with healthy, personalized coping strategies.
LilyWarren
March 7th, 2021 4:22am
Triggers are usually something that ‘trigger’ or incur something negative that has happened in your past. So for example, if domestic abuse is a trigger for someone, it reminds them of a time when they or someone close to them faced it. They’re basically something that makes the person recall a traumatic experience they’ve gone through. As far as knowing if you have on goes, you need to put everything on the table and analyze whether or not thinking about that specific ring bothers you or just hearing about it takes you to a bad place. Start noticing physical changes you may be facing during the talk of certain topics, like swearing etc. And notice how your train of thought changes when someone’s talking about something you may have faced, does it bring any negative memories? Does it make you feel bad? That’s the gist of it as far as I think
Anonymous
March 17th, 2021 3:57pm
Triggers are words or actions that make people upset typically it reminds them of something unpleasant in their own life. Triggers are things that make people really upset because it reminds them of something in their own life that upsets them. Some triggers include using caps, talking about serious issues and topics that makes people upset, talking about food and more. You know if you have a trigger if there is a specific thing that makes you upset because of something that happened in your life. Sometimes trigers are easy to find and understand but sometimes triggers are hard to find and understand why it triggers you.
Anonymous
March 18th, 2021 10:24pm
Triggers are aspects in our surrounding environment that cause a powerful emotional response and act as a reminder of an unpleasant experience we have had in the past. Triggers could include certain words or phrases said by others, certain smells, places, and events. They may be very slight but can cause a significant response within our bodies. I know if I have a trigger when I feel a sense of "negative deja vu" and it's difficult to continue paying attention to other things besides the thing causing my trigger. Experiencing this can make it hard to focus and carry on a conversation soon after like normal. Triggers can cause us to relive a traumatic or otherwise painful experience.
Anonymous
March 26th, 2021 5:53pm
Triggers are something that immediately reminds you of a certain unpleasant memory or emotion. They could be anything like specific words, smells, songs or even objects. You can find out if you have a trigger by taking note of when you get your triggers, what you were around (as in hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting and seeing), what was happening during the time and why you possibly got them. Over some time(maybe a month or even a year, it’s different for everyone and it’s okay to take your time), you will see the patterns in the results. Then you can avoid getting triggered if you know what your triggers are and how you get them.