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What is a trigger? A trigger is simply defined as an event or thing that causes something to happen. When we talk about triggers in respect to psychological topics, we talk about triggers in respect to the emotions they cause to arise.

Now that we know what a trigger is, the next thing we need to understand is what kind of things can be triggers. The answer to that question is anything can be a trigger.

A trigger can be something you see (e.g. a painting, a sunrise, an accident, etc). It can be something you hear (e.g. a poem read aloud, a song, a baby crying, etc). It can be a smell (a cologne, a food, the scent if new leather, etc). It can be something you feel (e.g. the touch of someone’s hand on your arm, a warm breeze on your skin, the rain on your face, etc). Or it can be something you taste (e.g.  Sweat, a food, etc.) The only requirement for something to be a trigger is that it has to be taken in by one of the senses, for now.

The things that are triggers for us are as unique we are. We each have our own distinct set of them. Everyone has triggers, not just people with mental illnesses.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t common triggers, things that invoke responses in a wide amount of people. It just means that different, things affect each of us differently; even things that are common triggers can cause very different reactions with different people.

One of the most important things that need to be learned when recovering from any type is mental illness is what the person’s unique triggers are. Once a person learns what triggers them, they need to learn to recognize when a triggering event is occurring. These are key steps in recovery. Once you realize something is triggering your reaction, you can use other techniques to regulate your response to the trigger. However, those techniques are a completely different topic.

Posted: May 20th, 2011 under Thoughts on Mental Health.

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