Many people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience blackouts, among other symptoms. These blackouts may include flashbacks to a previous time in the person’s life, or they may involve a dissociation from reality. While these experiences may be scary in the moment, you can control and even prevent them with the right treatment plan. In this guide, we will discuss how to handle PTSD blackouts and regain control of your mind and body.
What Causes PTSD Blackouts?
Before you can understand how to control PTSD blackouts, you need to understand what’s causing them in the first place. You experienced a traumatic event that your brain has not fully processed. Your mind does not know how to react around certain sights, smells, sounds and other sensory factors that remind you of that event. You may not realize you are around a trigger; your brain just reacts to it.
For a brief moment, you may become trapped in the past or separated from reality. You may feel like you are looking at yourself from above or a different person entirely. This all stems from your mind not having the tools to sort through emotions, thoughts and feelings in the moment.
Signs of a PTSD Blackout
Blackouts are usually accompanied by memory loss, so you may not realize you are having or have had a blackout until someone else tells you. Thus you may not notice the signs of a blackout until after it has occurred. Those include:
- Sending messages or making calls you do not remember
- Losing track of time
- Feeling an unexpected adrenaline rush (may occur after a blackout is over)
- Being told that you blacked out (someone was with you at the time)
- Waking up in an unexpected location
- Having gaps in your memory
What to Do during a PTSD Blackout
Unfortunately, there may not be much you can do during a PTSD blackout because you won’t have control of your mind or body at the time. Someone in the room with you may be able to talk you out of the blackout by helping you get grounded – answering questions about the present day, reminding you where you are, telling you who you are with, etc. If you experience a blackout by yourself, you probably will not be aware enough to control your actions in the moment. The best way to combat this is to learn how to prevent PTSD blackouts.
Continue to Part 2 to learn how to prevent dissociation.