What are Emotional Flashbacks?
Emotional flashbacks describe the experience of being reminded of past trauma and your body responding by replicating the emotions you felt during that traumatic event.
There are many symptoms associated with Emotional Flashbacks, such as:
- feeling unsafe
- feeling like the worst is about to happen
Emotional flashbacks may be hard to recognize. They can happen suddenly and it can be hard to pinpoint what triggered them.
Emotional flashbacks can be confusing for everyone
Emotional flashbacks can be a distressing experience and can leave us feeling overwhelmed, disorientated, and vulnerable.
Emotional flashbacks can cause us a lot of trouble, especially if we don’t understand what is happening. We can try to find a reason for the feeling and mistakenly assign a false, present-day reason for the feeling. It can be really confusing to the people around us who see us as irrationally angry for something small, or wonder why we are crying when nothing all that bad happened.
What an Emotional Flashback Is Not
Although the exact trigger may take effort to uncover, this does not mean your emotional episode is irrational. Quite the opposite: your nervous system is being a bit too good at protecting you. You are not broken or crazy or wrong for feeling the way you feel.
Although you may not immediately see why your loved one is “overreacting”, an emotional flashback is not a cry for attention. Most people experiencing an emotional flashback would rather disappear.
How long does an emotional flashback last?
Emotional flashbacks can last for minutes, hours, days or even weeks in some cases. Prolonged emotional flashbacks can be understood in terms of re-traumatization.
How to support yourself or someone you know with flashbacks?
Every person is different, however some gentle places to start include:
- Practicing self-talk while you employ other techniques, reminding yourself that you are safe, this is not happening right now, this is not real. I like to remind my clients to imagine they are watching the scene again through the lens of their television or mobile phone, detached and objective. This lowers the intensity of the emotions we’re having during the flashback.
- Focusing on your breathing, taking in slow, deep breaths. The boxed breathing technique (or 4×4) is an excellent and easy way to alleviate some of the anxiety associated with the flashback.
- Practicing grounding techniques that work to anchor you in the present, like engaging your senses, for example identifying one thing you see, one thing you smell…
- Identifying activities, objects or people that make you feel safe
- Tracking your triggers and patterns through keeping a journalor diary
- Working with a trauma therapist to process the unresolved trauma that is leading to flashbacks.
Where can you get help to deal with flashbacks?
If the flashbacks are intense and interfere with your daily life, it may be helpful to see a mental health professional who can help you work through the trauma and develop effective coping strategies.
If you are looking for support to deal with emotional flashbacks, you may find it helpful to work with a trained professional.
A therapist can help you better understand your flashbacks. They can help you learn to cope with them when they occur and heal from the past hurts that contribute to them.
There are deeper, more efficient ways to get rid of your past traumas and unresolved issues. Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) is one of them. In just about 1 to 3 sessions, Dr. Carla Kesrouani can help you let go of any past traumas in a safe and grounding way. Contact Dr. Carla Kesrouani and set up a free consultation today.
Remember that healing from emotional flashbacks takes time, and everyone’s journey is different. Be gentle with yourself, and try to approach your healing with compassion and patience.