Understanding that holidays can trigger negative emotions in our loved ones is important. While you may not think about it, Halloween is one of these holidays. This holiday seems innocent and fun to a lot of people but it can be emotionally disturbing to someone who has PTSD.
How Halloween can Trigger PTSD
Some of the ways Halloween can trigger PTSD include:
- Halloween can remind you of your past trauma. Things like skeletons, fake blood, and other things intended to be "fun" may trigger flashbacks. These can also be a struggle for anyone who is inclined towards self-injurious behaviors (e.g. cutting, burning) or suicidal thoughts.
- Halloween can trigger negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. For instance, someone may be inclined to self-harm because they've been triggered by a song or an image that reminded them of their trauma.
- Halloween can stir up night-terrors and other PTSD symptoms. This includes hypervigilance, increased anxiety, and flashbacks. These often strike out of nowhere but are very disabling when they do. For this reason, it's best to avoid stimuli and situations that trigger these symptoms
- Halloween can cause a person to become overstimulated. There's lots of energy and stimulation surrounding this holiday because of the scare factor, costumes, candy, and even the parties. While many people really enjoy this, it can cause other people to have increased levels of anxiety. This is especially true for anyone who's prone to having panic attacks.
How You'll Know Your PTSD is Triggered by Halloween
You'll know your PTSD is being triggered by Halloween if you tend to experience more of the following symptoms at this time of the year in specific:
- Halloween can cause hypervigilence (the feeling that you constantly have to be "on guard"). Not only is this exhausting, but the constant, prolonged adrenaline and stress hormones can harm your physical well-being.
- Halloween can increase the startle reflex. Most people with PTSD are already easily startled. Now add in scary costumes and it takes this to a whole new level.
- People with PTSD can't handle too much stimulation (e.g. sound, lights, people, smells). Unfortunately, it becomes more challenging to tune these things out as a person grows older. Therefore it's important to closely monitor what's going on around you and when you need a break. With Halloween this becomes even more challenging and breaks become even more frequently needed.
So, while Halloween may seem innocent and fun, the fear factor can trigger PTSD symptoms. It's important to not only know about these but also have a plan for how to deal with them.
I can understand this. Hopefully my yard with the skeletons isn't upsetting anyone. I also have a giant Baby Yoda out there, so mostly it's happy things.ReplyDelete
I bet baby Yoda makes everyone happy. I know he'd make me happy.Delete
I have never thought of this before, but it makes total sense. Halloween is a holiday full of noise, lights, movement, and scary costume designs.ReplyDelete
Yes, and when you're already hyper vigilant it just makes everything worse.Delete
I really had no idea that Halloween could trigger survivers like this. What an interesting thing to bring more awareness too. I already heard about fire crackers and so forth, but now I know more about the triggers that Halloween can bring and I can start to be more mindful.ReplyDelete
Thank you for taking the time to be more mindful. There's so much that we survivors deal with that gets overlooked. Even just 1 person taking the time to care makes a big difference.Delete
I have seen much of this as a principal in a school setting. However, most kids seem to understand that Halloween is about the "fright" and choose whether or not to participate. I always honored a student's wishes for Halloween.ReplyDelete
I hadn't thought about this for children. I'm glad you honored kids' wishes and didn't push them.Delete
Very informative. Thank you for shedding light on this. I truly had no idea!ReplyDelete
Thank you for letting me know that this blog is being successful in shedding light on things for people.Delete
Halloween for us is a beautiful and fun holiday! I hope it will remain this way!ReplyDelete
I can see how Halloween doesn't have to be dark and scary but a lot of people choose to focus on the dark, scary part.Delete
I never realized the hazards it can cause. This is excellent awareness.ReplyDelete
Yes, unfortunately there's both sides to Halloween.Delete
This is interesting. I'd never thought about it, but it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing some really helpful info!ReplyDelete
You're welcome, I'm glad to hear how it makes sense.Delete
I never thought about Halloween triggering PTSD. It's terrible to be suffering from that.ReplyDelete
PTSD is definitely not fun but one learns to live with it the best they can. That's my take on life with PTSD at least.Delete
I don't personally know of anybody who is suffering from PTSD so I sure have never thought about this. Thank you for the enlightenment. -LYNNDEEReplyDelete
You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by.Delete
I'm glad you shared this with us. I never really thought about this myself. I can definitely see how it can trigger PTSD.ReplyDelete
You're welcome. Thanks for understanding.Delete
I never thought that Halloween can trigger PTSD. Which is difficult, it is really diffcult to go through it. we need get them help.ReplyDelete
The brain is a "funny" thing and helping someone with PTSD takes time and a whole lot of little steps along the way. We need more people who understand it and more trauma-based therapists.Delete
I hadn't thought about Halloween being a trigger for PTSD, but it does make sense. Something useful to consider.ReplyDelete
There are so many things people don't know/understand about PTSD. Thanks for considering this one.Delete