Emotional Flashbacks: What They Are & How to Find Relief

Emotional Flashback

“Triggers” has become a far more common word these days. They are relevant to this discussion as emotional flashbacks can be the result of being triggered. Put simply, an emotional flashback is an intrusive mental image or thought. The result of such a flashback is the replaying or religion of a traumatic experience.

This scenario can be common for someone struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As disturbing as the flashback itself can be, there is another factor. Frequently, the person with PTSD never knows when it will happen. The first sign could be the flashback itself.

Emotional Triggers and Flashbacks: Examples and Reactions

These can vary widely. So much depends on the specifics of the trauma you’ve endured. In a general sense, however, there are some common categories when it comes to triggers. These may include:

  • Sounds and noises (particularly loud noises and sounds)
  • Tastes
  • Locations
  • Situations
  • People
  • Scents

Left unprepared for the introduction of any of the above potential triggers, you then have to deal with the associated emotions, e.g.

  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Fear
  • Dread
  • Grief

An ensuing part of this cycle is a feeling of losing control. Your thoughts, your emotions, and your perceptions may escalate the challenge. In a desperate attempt to regain some control, people with PTSD may withdraw or engage in substance abuse.

Roughly 75 percent of U.S. adults have experienced a traumatic event in their lives. So, this is not a rare problem and it requires the help of a trained professional. Fortunately, there are therapeutic approaches that offer relief. One of the most successful and appealing is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR.

How EMDR Can Help You Find Relief From Emotional Flashbacks

Trauma must no be left untreated. To do so would be to risk depression, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and the previously mentioned substance abuse. It can also result in physical symptoms like sleep and eating disturbances along with chronic pain. EMDR is an evidence-based treatment that addresses all of these issues and does so in a relatively quick manner. How quick? Up to 90 percent of trauma survivors report no PTSD symptoms after just three EMDR sessions.

The basic premise works on the understanding that your brain is designed to heal itself. EMDR taps into this power source. This is accomplished using the mechanisms involved with Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. The client is asked to identify a negative thought or memory. As they hold an image of this memory in their mind, the therapist moves their fingers in front of the patient’s eyes.

This enables the patient to finally process a traumatic memory and replace it with a more positive image. Thanks to EMDR, you will have a sense of closure — no more triggers, no more flashbacks. All of this in just six to 20 sessions!

Through meticulous research, EMDR has been shown to:

  • Deepen commitment: More results in fewer sessions is very motivating!
  • Reduce side effects: Unlike medication, EMDR has no serious side effects. You may experience a sudden but brief increase in traumatic memories after the first couple of sessions.
  • Provide sustainable benefits: Follow-ups demonstrate the long-term impact of EMDR.

Learn More

I have been working with trauma survivors since 2011. I understand the need for a safe space and an effective approach. Both trauma and EMDR can seem confusing on the surface. My job is to compassionately guide you into a deeper understanding. You’ll learn healthy coping mechanisms and powerful self-help tools. As for EMDR treatment, I would love to introduce you to the healing it has to offer. Let’s connect, let’s talk, and let’s get you on your way to recovery.