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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Emotionally Triggered is Commonly Mislabeled as Panic

I just wrote a HUB Pages article on “Being triggered is confused with Panic Attacks” and blog on "Does being triggered impersonate a panic attack" discussing how panic attacks are misdiagnosed, misinterpreted or mistaken for the result of being mentally triggered resulting in the surfacing of memory or flashback.

What is a Trigger?

A trigger is a sensory stimuli from the outside such as an emotion, a physical pain, a visual cue, a sound, a smell, a location or a touch which causes a recollection from the experience of the outside stimuli that connects to a complete memory or portion of a memory (flashback) and results in the surfacing of that recollection. The surfacing memory or flashback may have been held in the subconscious at a dissociated memory storage area in the brain. A trigger can be connected to a good or positive experience as well as a bad, negative or life threatening experience.

New Perspective on Triggers

A trigger is a part of the formation of non-integrated memory. A trigger is formed when a memory of an overwhelming painful event is not integrated by the conscious mind at the time of the situation into long-term memory storage. A trigger is a connection between where a negative painful memory is stored in a subconscious dissociative storage area and the conscious mind for retrieval in at a future time. A trigger is activated by an outside stimulus and evokes a surfacing of a dissociated memory which in turn produces unexplained emotions, images, sounds and physical symptoms associated with the memory triggered. Since the memory is dissociated and not in long-term memory the emotions, sounds, and vivid images seem to originate from nowhere and unconnected to the person’s life.

In its simplest term, a trigger is a monitor connected to the conscious mind that gets activated by the PTSD symptom of hypersensitivity and vigilance.

What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is a brief episode of intense anxiety, foreboding, and fear. Often these people who experience a panic attack seem to feel that they are going to lose control of themselves. These attacks generally are not attached to a specific event or object but instead seem to come from nowhere for no apparent reason. The onset of a panic attack is sudden and repeated episodes of intense unexplained fear from within accompanied by physical symptoms.

New Perspective on Panic Attacks

A panic attack is the realization of a projected thought originating from within toward the consequences of a future event or situation that may happen which produces the fear. A panic attack is a projected thought or idea based on a foreboding or overwhelming core belief that takes hold and ruminates in the conscious mind. As a result, ruminating thoughts and overthinking intensify the onset of overwhelming fear that is unconnected or unexplained to anything present in the moment.

Case Study

Jane a 28-year-old survivor who had a history of abuse as a child reported, “My life was a living hell. The experiences I was going through I was told were panic attacks and severe anxiety. I tried everything: psychologists, psychiatrists, all kinds of pills and drugs. Nothing helped or stopped my overwhelming experiences. I then discovered that I was experiencing surfacing memories and flashbacks of my past abuse that were being triggered by people, place, and thing around me. What a relief. Once I addressed the experiences I had in my childhood and made peace with my episodes did not happen again.” 


Panic Attack seems to have become one of those catch-all diagnoses. True recognition depends on what and how the symptoms are reported to a professional. What is known is that a panic attack can be neutralized by medication but triggers are not neutralized by medication at all. A panic attack makes a person want to withdraw, isolate and hide from life. A trigger makes a person extremely emotionally reactive, hypersensitive and hyper-aware of their surroundings.


As a survivor, it is very important to know whether you are experiencing a panic attack or a flashback that has been triggered in your mind. The main difference between a panic attack and triggered memory is not the symptoms themselves but the perception of what is happening due to inaccurate information.

        Coach Bill
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  1. I have experienced panic attacks and PTSD, this article was excellent, thank you!

  2. Dear crafttmoney

    Thank you very much for your comment. I am very glad that you thought this blog was excellent and hopefully helped you to some compassion for what you have experienced.

    Blessings, Dr. Bill

  3. Nice piece of composing!!! Typically the most well-liked method of dealing along with anxiety difficulties nowadays is really medicines. Nevertheless, natural remedies for anxiety tend to be proved to be a lot more efficient which is additionally a lot better than conventional medicines because natural treatments for anxiousness don't lead to adverse impact on the body or even produce drawback signs and symptoms. Many thanks!!!

    1. I appreciate your comments Laurie. I like that you mentioned natural treatments that have less effects on the body and mind as well as they are not addictive. Other things like meditation, mindfulness and exercise are also powerful ways to reduce worry and stress precursors of anxiety. I think the best way in making anxiety positive is to change your mindset and make anxiety your friend.
      You are welcome.

  4. Thanks for the great information!

    1. Dear Mary Mchuh,

      Thank you for your positive comment. I really appreciate it.

      Regards, Dr. Bill


  5. You can see, then, that anxiety attack symptoms are just the result of your body's natural response to something that doesn't exist.
    do have this fear, and it builds on your naturally heightened travel anxiety to trigger an anxiety attack.
    For more information: anxiety attack

    1. Imran,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and make a comment to this blog. Many times emotional triggers from past hurtful situations can be mistaken for panic attack rather than surfacing triggers from our past.

      I hope you subscribe to my blog, read more of them and express your ideas. This can help many more people.

      Thanks again.


      Coach Bill