What is smell ptsd

Education for those affected and their relatives


A traumatic experience is an emotional injury. This experience is new to many and much of what lies ahead is unknown. It is difficult to understand what is going on in the person concerned and why one cannot cope with it. After a traumatic experience, almost everyone feels mentally numb, after which unpleasant feelings, thoughts and body sensations often arise. It can take a long time for this to subside. In the time after the trauma, images, noises (can also be voices), smells, tastes, other sensations and thoughts about the trauma come to you, even if you try to push them aside. This can be confusing and terrifying. Some people ask, can I ever get over it? You have the feeling that you are no longer in control, it happens to you. Some even think they might be going crazy. Such worries are completely understandable, because this experience is completely new and therefore unknown to you. However, as you will learn from this fact sheet, these thoughts and feelings and sensations are a normal response to an abnormal event.
All these reactions show that the soul tries to process this event and to integrate it into the further course of life.

Each person reacts to the trauma in their own way. Nevertheless, there are reactions that are similar or even the same in many people.

This information sheet describes some of these typical reactions. You will likely find that you have experienced or are still experiencing many of these reactions.
The most immediate reaction after a traumatic experience is the feeling that danger is imminent. One is afraid or worried. After a traumatic experience, the feeling that danger is imminent is mainly experienced in two ways:

1. through unintentional reliving of parts of the traumatic event;
2. through physical restlessness, frightfulness and increased vigilance,
3. by an often long-lasting feeling of anxiety.

The sense of danger has two sources. On the one hand, it is a direct result of the fact that you or others have been exposed to a dangerous or life-threatening situation. If you are certain Triggers or stimuliRemember the traumatic experience, you will automatically get the feeling of danger and, for example, again see fragmentary images of the event in front of you or get corresponding physical reactions. With some stimuli this is obvious because they are strongly reminiscent of the original traumatic event. (E.g .: when you return to the place where the trauma happened.) Others, however, may seem nonsensical and only remember vaguely, vaguely or not at all of the traumatic experience. (e.g. the flash of a certain color, or a certain smell, or a similar sound, changes in light or a change in temperature). Such stimuli are often difficult to identify as triggers for memories, and the memory, physical excitement, or feelings of fear seem to come out of the blue. Once you have recognized the trigger, you can understand your own automatic reaction much better in order to learn to control or endure it.

On the other hand, the feeling of danger arises from the fact that many people perceive the world differently after a trauma. You have a different sense of what is safe and what is not. It often takes some time before they feel safe again. So you too have the feeling that life is full of dangers and that you never know when another disaster will happen. There remains an inner willingness to be constantly "on guard".

2.   Reliving
After a trauma, people often experience individual parts of the traumatic experience again and again. Images, noises, smells from the event may suddenly pop into your head unexpectedly, or you may feel the same physical symptoms, perhaps even your hands or legs trembling. Or they have the same thoughts that they had during the traumatic experience. Sometimes the reliving is so intense and precise and alive that you feel like you have to go through it again. Perhaps the threatening feelings or images in the dreams come back, nightmares come with violent outbreaks of sweat and disturb the sleep. This reliving comes when it wants. You will feel that you have no control over it. This can happen during the day and at night. The experience is sometimes only partially stored in the consciousness. The storage and the attempt of the inner world to fetch all the experience into the memory is different than with normal stresses and experiences. For this reason, the usual, learned coping mechanisms do not help either. New ways have to be learned here. Reliving becomes less vivid and rare when what has been experienced can be talked through and with the classification and evaluation of memories, an integration into the life story begins.

3.   Physical excitement
Another common response to trauma is one physical excitement, with nervousness, increased vigilance, tremors, nervousness, irritability or difficulty sleeping, sudden headache, palpitations or a sensation of pressure in the chest. The inner images with these physical symptoms can make you difficult to sleep in. If you have fallen asleep overtired, many wake up again after 2-3 hours, are tired and yet awake and a "thought mill" begins in the head. Nightmares can also occur again and again. Because of this constant tension, they do not get any rest in their sleep. Irritability slowly emerges as an expression of reduced resilience, and many times you will be more impatient, especially with family members. Here it is helpful to take a short-acting sleep aid (e.g. zolpidem, Stilnox, only works for 4 hours) for 2-3 weeks, once to induce a short restful sleep and to avoid the fear of going to sleep and the nightmares that sometimes begins dismantle. The body is always on alert, although this is no longer necessary. You have to teach the inner world again that this danger is over. You will feel particularly increased excitement when you encounter situations, people or stimuli that remind you of the traumatic experience.

4.   Avoidance
The feeling of danger, the reliving of inner images of the trauma and the physical reactions are stressful. That is why many people try to get a grip on them by avoiding anything that could remind them of the traumatic experience. (e.g. places, people, TV shows), or they try not to think about it. Many try to suppress or avoid these memories and thoughts associated with the trauma. Others try to cope with these painful feelings and thoughts about the trauma by trying to numb their feelings (e.g. with alcohol). The Avoidanceis a way to protect yourself from things that now seem dangerous to you, that affect them excessively. Avoidance is often a good means to short term to reduce the burden. If it works, it will reduce the Avoidance uncomfortable feelings. You need a safe place, a protective environment. In the long run, this strategy is not helpful in integrating and coping with trauma. First, it's hard to avoid your thoughts and feelings altogether. They keep coming back, especially in those situations where you want to relax. A constant preoccupation with the suppression of these thoughts and feelings can arise.

5.   Numbness / depression
Some people feel unreal or detached from their surroundings when they are reminded of the traumatic event. Such Numbness of feeling For example, it can make you feel alienated from those close to you. Many people feel that these familiar people cannot understand what they went through because they did not experience it themselves. This speaks for the extraordinary nature of the experience. Other common reactions to a traumatic experience are Depression,Sadness, or depression. You may feel hopeless, desperate, and cry a lot. Loss of hope, interest, joy,in other people and in the familiar activities that were otherwise enjoyable is a normal consequence of the traumatic experience. Nothing is fun anymore, life no longer seems worth living and the future plans no longer seem to be meaningful, important and correct. In connection with the feeling of numbness and dejection, many people give up relationships with others or previously meaningful activities after a traumatic experience.

6.   Difficulty concentrating:
Many sufferers have after a traumatic experience Difficulty concentrating. This is also a common response to a traumatic experience. It's frustrating and unsettling when you can't focus on what's going on around you. This lack of concentration is an expression of a traumatic network disorder of the nerve lines in the brain. It also takes a lot of strength and concentration to keep the memory of the event out of your head. The more the traumatic event has been integrated, the more the concentration returns.

7.   Loss of control.
Most people felt during the traumatic experience that they could not do anything to prevent the worst. Many feel that they have lost all control over their emotions, their bodies, their physical security or over their lives. This new experience is now stored together with this event in the brain as a permanent warning. The feeling of loss of control can be as intense as fears such as: "I'm going crazy or I'm going crazy"; arise. In addition, the thoughts and feelings can occur unintentionally, this reinforces the feeling of losing control. If the thoughts and feelings are repressed with force, they can be surprising and violent and increase the feeling of loss of control, "(I feel at the mercy of these thoughts.").

8.   Feelings of guilt and shame
In the weeks following a traumatic experience, people keep thinking about what happened and how they could have influenced the course of events. Many blame themselves that they did or did not do certain things, or that they should have reacted differently. This is associated with a sense of guilt or shame. It is as if the thoughts are trying to change how they are exposed after the event. Some of your own reactions seem strange and incomprehensible. Many also blame themselves for not having survived such a traumatic event. They see it as a personal weakness or inadequacy, rather than a normal human response to an abnormal event. Unfortunately, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues and superiors contribute to such self-reproach. It happens again and again that the victim is blamed and not the perpetrator. Or they make the suggestion that you just have to pull yourself together and just forget about the whole thing. Self-reproach reinforces the low self-esteem and inhibits dealing with the traumatic experience.

9.   trouble
Another common response to trauma is that trouble. This often refers to the people responsible for your being injured, abused, or impaired in your life. Anger feelings can also be triggered when certain people or situations are reminded of the trauma, even if they have nothing to do with it. Many notice that people close to them (spouse, family, children, friends) make them angry. Sometimes they too Outbursts of angertowards the people who mean the most to you. This is confusing: why are you so angry with those you love? This is partly due to the fact that one is in a state of high excitement due to the trauma and is therefore no longer resilient and can react calmly. It can also be the case that when dealing with people close to you, you experience feelings of dependency, vulnerability and helplessness, which remind you of the trauma and make you angry because of it. Often there is also the feeling of not being understood by the family. Sometimes it even happens that you feel so angry that you could swear loudly or lash out. If you do not know this about yourself, you feel strange and do not know how to deal with this anger. Here it is important to know that this anger is a normal reaction and will decrease with time and help. Part of the anger is also related to the fact that you revolt against it and find it unfair that you have experienced the trauma and others may have got away better.

10. Self-image
Traumatic experiences can lead to negative changes in self-image. Both the traumatic experience and the feelings that follow can give rise to self-criticism and self-doubt. Many people say: " nothing is as it used to be! Before the trauma, I was able to cope with all the stresses and strains of everyday life, today I can no longer deal with small burdens and am quickly scared. "It is important to clarify these perceptions in conversation in order to gain new attitudes.

11. mistrust
Many people feel after a traumatic experience mistrust towards people and the world. The world that previously seemed safe has suddenly become dangerous and unsafe. It is now constantly being careful to keep control to yourself and not to lose it. Conversations based on trust are helpful here in order to regain trust.

12. Memories of the past
Finally, a traumatic experience can also evoke memories of similar events in the past. Suddenly one remembers vividly events that one believed to have been forgotten or left behind, which can be just as harrowing as the recently suffered trauma. What reminds one of these earlier experiences during the trauma can be similar impressions and sensations (sound, smell, taste, heat or cold) or similar meanings of the situation (e.g. in which one believed oneself to be vulnerable, exposed, helpless or in mortal danger) . This new experience seems to open the responsible memory in our brain and everything "old" can be relived. Conclusion This fact sheet has informed you about the common reactions to traumatic events and you have been able to determine which of these descriptions apply to you. The most important message on this sheet is: The feelings, thoughts, and physical reactions they experience are normal reactions to oneextraordinary burden. They are a natural instinctive response to a threat to life. That is why these responses are too Post traumaticStress disorder called. In therapy you will get to know and accept the changed life. Possible solutions are sought to deal with the new. You will find out the importance this trauma will have in your life story. More and more, what has been experienced is becoming a lived history, with the impairments decreasing and life becoming more and more satisfactory again. Eventually you will be able to report on the traumatic experience you once had, as well as on many special events in your life. It will no longer overwhelm you, but will have contributed to a psychologically significant step of maturity.

(Developed by Prof. Dr. Anke Ehlers, 1999, changed and expanded by S. Jatzko, H..Jatzko 2000)