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Combat PTSD: Triggers


Triggers. They come from all 5 senses and beyond. In my article “Combat PTSD: A Closer Look” I went over some questions to ask yourself about your life as a little bit of a guide to see how PTSD has affected you. Now we are going to focus on triggers. This is a HUGE  part of PTSD; understanding triggers and what triggers you is essential to learning how to manage your PTSD. What is a trigger? In this instance a trigger is anything which stimulates a physiological or psychological reaction which is rooted in trauma. Here is a short overview of some triggers.


  • Sight- explosions or gun fire (real life or TV), blood, dead bodies, people driving too close to you, lumps of freshly dug earth, wires in the ground, boxes or objects on the side of or in the middle of the road, crowds, people getting hurt, destroyed vehicles
  • Sound- gunshots or sounds similar to gun shots, explosions, yelling, fireworks, slamming doors
  • Taste- blood, dirt, food of combat area
  • Smell- blood, dead bodies (rotten flesh, burning flesh, or similar smells), gun powder, explosives, fuel, similar smells to locals or the environment of your deployment
  • Touch- blood or something of the same consistency, cold steel, limp bodies (could be someone sleeping), holding a weapon again, fighting
  • Situations- dreams, crowds, driving, fighting, shooting weapons, people not following the rules, insubordination, people walking behind you or too close to you, car crashes, unexpected things or people startling you

These are just a few examples of the many, many triggers that are out there. Learning what your triggers are is one of the absolute most important factors in managing and reducing your symptoms. Every person with PTSD should know that they are not alone and you most definitely are not crazy. The trauma that we went through are things that no one should ever have to deal with, but unfortunately this world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We took a stand to do something that less than 10% of the population is willing to do, now we come home broken while everyone else gets to live their pretty lives. Its unfair right? That is the wrong mentality. Remember, we made this decision and you have to stop pointing fingers at everyone and everything else for your woes. Own yourself, own your actions and take responsibility for you. Let go of that anger towards the world because they “haven’t gone through what you have and don’t understand”. We took this upon ourselves so our families, friends, and the nation wouldn’t have to, take pride in that. It is time to focus on you, on your healing process, on your triggers, and rebuild yourself. It is a tough road, I’m not going to lie, but you are not alone. Take a stand, join your brothers and sisters in arms and always remember, you are not alone.

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Sean Culver
Sean’s fascination with Martial Arts began when he was a child going to karate classes in a gym at a local school in Lake Forest, CA. Although his training was cut short, his passion was not. Over the years he became active in competitive wrestling where he took first place in almost all tournaments he competed in. Upon graduating High School Sean felt a higher calling to serve in the military, more specifically, the Army Airborne Infantry. During his time in service he trained in Modern Army Combatives, which is based largely on Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, as well as extensive training on military weapons and tactics. Due to his mental and physical prowess he was sent to intensive training for hand to hand combat tactics where he honed his skills for combat in full battle attire. Having done over two years of combat time in Afghanistan, Sean can bring to light a new side of fighting and tactics that he has not only experienced first hand, but has employed while being in direct contact with the enemy. In addition to Modern Army Combatives, Sean has also trained in Muay Thai, Boxing, and Wing Chun. With as much as Sean loves the Martial Arts, it was only natural that competitive fighting and MMA would draw him into its world of high class fighters.