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 Flashbacks can be most terrifying to those of us who experience them. I personally believed that flashbacks were a symptom of PTSD. But it appears that flashbacks are sometimes actually 'called' Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Anyhow, according to the often quoted 'diagnostic category book for psychiatry'  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is defines as "the normal experience of all people experiencing an event that is outside the range of normal human experience".

Flashbacks are recollections of trauma related experiences which may be triggered by images, noises, sounds, smells, feelings, or even nothing at all; as in the case of numbness. 

One moment, all seems fine and then one can feel panic stricken, trapped in a threatening place one may even experience feelings of absolute powerlessness without knowing why. 

These extreme feelings and body sensations occurring as they do are so frightening because they are not related to the reality of the present and many times seem to come from out of the blue.



When experiencing flashbacks sufferers may begin to doubt their sanity and are understandably relctant to tell anyone what is happening. There appears to be an overwhelming feeling of not being in control and being at the mercy of these frightening occurences.


Sufferers tend to avoid areas and situations which could trigger these flashbacks. Depending upon what caused the original trauma the list of possible triggers is virtually inexhaustible. Flashbacks can occur during any form of human contact. When a person has been traumatised - flashbacks Are Normal

 What Helps ?        


           Tell yourself that you are having a flashback.


            Remind yourself that the worst is over. The feelings and sensations you are experiencing are memories of the past.


           Get Grounded. This means stamping your feet on the ground so that the child knows you have feet and can get away now if you need to. (As a child, you couldn't get away........ now you can).


           Breathe. When we get frightened we stop normal breathing. As a result our body begins to panic because we haven’t got enough oxygen. Lack of oxygen causes a great deal of panic feelings; pounding in the head, tightness, sweating, feeling faint, shakiness, dizziness. When we breathe deeply enough, a lot of the panic feeling can decrease.


            Re-establish to the present. Begin to use your five senses in the present. Look around and see the colours in the room, the shapes of things, the people near, etc. Listen to the sounds in the room; your breathing, traffic, birds, people, cars etc. Feel your body and what is touching it; your clothes, your own arms and hands, the chair or floor supporting you.


        Find your boundaries. Sometimes when we are having a flashback things get out of proportion we lose the sense of where we end and the world begins; as if we do not have skin. Wrap yourself in a blanket, hold a pillow or soft toy, go to bed, sit in a cupboard... anything that you can do to make yourself feel safe.


       Get help. You may need to be alone or you may want someone near you. In either case it is important that your friends and relations know about flashbacks so they can help with the process, whether that means letting you be by yourself or being there, whatever is right for you is right.


       Take time to regain control. Sometimes flashbacks are very powerful. Don't expect yourself to be able to do adult things immediately. Be kind and look after yourself do something that you enjoy. Don’t punish yourself, you and your child don’t deserve it.


      Be patient. It takes time to heal the past. It takes time to learn ways of taking care of yourself, of being an adult who has feelings and developing effective ways of coping in the here and now.


    Find a competent therapist. Look for a therapist who understands A therapist can be a guide, a support, a coach in this healing process.


We do not have to go through flashbacks all on our home ever again.      


Do not be alarmed. Remember, flashbacks are part of the healing process.