Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an intense physical and emotional reaction to thoughts and memories.  It can last for many months and years after a traumatic event.  In other words, you have an event transpire and long after time has passed between you, its recollection puts your physical and mental state at dis-ease.  PTSD has been associated with wartime and military veterans in the past, but our society has come to accept that a wider range of our population could benefit from treatment. 

PTSD has the following three core components

1 Reliving

With PTSD, it’s common when clients have memories of a past event, it affects them on a physiological level and on emotional level as well.  Some physical signs would be shaking hands and/or voice, heart palpitation, headaches, and cold/hot sweats.  The emotional side can range from intense feelings of guilt and fear, to going numb throughout the body.

2 Avoidance

Here you refrain from people, places, and activities that remind you of the event.  There may be a place or person that reminds you of past trauma. Since we are haunted by that event, we push away from anything that would hint at that transpired incident.

3 Increase Arousal

Becoming easily startled and having difficulty sleeping are the most common forms.  Irritability and bursts of anger will happen if that traumatic event is lingering in the clients thought space.  Emotional dysregulation has a role in this as well.


Our body talks to us and in the case of ptsd and trauma, it has a way of trapping us into an emotional state and keeping us there.  So what takes us to this dreadful place?  What takes us out of the present moment and into memories we do not want to have or relive?  We need to stand watch over triggers.

Memory is held together by sounds, sights, and smells.  In psychology, the word is used to mean a stimulus that causes difficult memories to surface in your consciousness.   In other words, it’s a catalyst for those unwanted intrusive thoughts and memories to surface.

Some of the more common triggers:

  • Sights, smell, and sound
  • Violence and profanity
  • Sudden noises or movements
  • Calendar date of a past event
  • Unwanted physical touch

I reflect on this topic in a post-pandemic world, as I observe what has happened with people and I question whether it’s possible for a mass population to experience ptsd on a collective level.

That led me to read the findings of research professor Dr. Mathide Husky of the Yale School of Medicine.  The following is an excerpt in response to the pandemic and its effect on mental health:

“As clinicians, when we ask about symptoms of PTSD, it’s always in reference to a specific traumatic event, with a significant level of shock,” Husky said. “In the context of a pandemic that is nearing two years in length, if I ask someone if they are experiencing flashbacks, the question becomes: flashbacks of what? Are they avoiding cues in their environment or situations that would expose them to things that would remind them of the event? Some people report a singular traumatic event in the context of the pandemic, but many do not.”

Take a moment to consider how your life was changed through the pandemic.  We each bring our own separate experiences to mind, but when we find ourselves thinking of a past memory, if it triggers a physiological reaction, it gives reason to further look into it.

We had just honored the victims of 9/11 recently, 21 years later.  It seems that time warps and distorts, but it does not feel like it has been over two decades.  For the longest time, I thought I had processed it and that was that.  As I worked in the field and progressed in my studies, I focused on any ptsd or traumatic events I might have gone through.

As I became mindful of the subtle changes taking place, I took note of several triggers I encountered.  A few examples:  if I hear the sound of a plane in the sky, my hands start to sweat and my heart begins to race.  I startled at any sudden loud noises.  Looking at the skyline of NYC triggers intrusive thoughts as well.   

I began to ask my friends and family who were with me that day how it has affected them.  Everyone, no matter their age, remembers that day vividly.  From the sunny New York city sky, to the hangover after Labor Day weekend, the memories were varied but the clarity of the day still hangs on.  

I wanted to share that part of my story to illustrate that we can still be functioning and not realize the unresolved tensions and traumu we may still carry, unbeknownst to our conscious mind.  As an advocate of mental health, I encourage anyone who is having a challenge in life to seek a professional for consultation. 

Questions to reflect on

*How do I know if I have processed an event in a healthy manner or if I am stuck in that trauma? 

*Are intrusive memories a component of ptsd?

*I feel guilt and shame seeking therapy.  Why is that?


From an era of toughing up, to a society that has grown more compassionate with its community of people suffering through mental health issues.  You no longer need to traverse that road alone.  There are licensed counselors and therapists that are here to bring clarity and peace to a mind that has long been absent from it.   

If you think you may be suffering from ptsd or you know someone who may benefit from learning more about ptsd, please contact your nearest health professional.

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