War flashbacks (A complete guide)

In this brief blog, we will be discussing war flashbacks, causes of war flashbacks, how to deal with war flashbacks, and more information about war flashbacks.

What are the experience of war flashbacks in affected veterans?

The experience of war flashbacks is the images and sounds that were associated with the war traumatic events the affected person has encountered.

These kinds of flashbacks tend to occur suddenly which is why most affected people would report them to be intrusive. 

There are different kinds of flashbacks like explicit flashbacks that are more emotionally detached such as remembering a class with some facts that you need for you to answer the test.

An implicit flashback is a kind of flashback where emotional associations are more involved such as war flashbacks. 

When a memory with a strong emotional association is activated, the affected person may become indulged at that moment of time.

For instance, these affected people may be able to see their 2-year-old self playing with their dead mother and may feel the emotions as if they were occurring in the present. 

When war veterans have war flashbacks, they are made to believe that something or someone in the present situation may have caused the occurrence of these flashbacks.

Although these strong sensations with these feelings are not happening in the present circumstance. 

The effects of traumatic war experiences on memory

For you to comprehend what happens to the brain when having a war flashback, you have to understand the concept of memory and how this kind of process is affected by these kinds of flashbacks.

What Occurs to Various Parts of the Brain?

Memory is a complicated process that includes most parts of the brain that can process memory but the focus will be on two important parts which are amygdala and hippocampus.

The amygdala is the part of the brain that deals with emotionally-charged memories. 

The amygdala has been evolved to help you avoid objects or situations that can cause fear due to your association with danger to those stimuli.

The hippocampus is another part of memory that focuses on the facts and figures that you deal with daily. 

The hippocampus organizes your experiences in different aspects such as who was there in a significant event and what were you doing at that time.

These two parts of the brain combine their functions to make your short-term memories to long-term memories.

In the midst of traumatic war experience, these two parts of the brain will be functioning differently.

Since you are going through a fearful event, your amygdala will be at overdrive with your hippocampus being brought to silence. 

In an evolutionary perspective, one part of the brain should be activated based on the present stimuli which in this case is fear which has caused the amygdala to take the reins and leaving the hippocampus at bay.

This is also the cause of why the cognition at this time becomes confused.

You can learn more about the evolutionary perspective of fear by buying this book on this website. 

After the War Threat has Disintegrated

When the traumatic war event has passed, you are having the remains of the distressing images and sounds of the emotional event with no recollection of what really occurred during that time.

This is why you easily associate the different stimuli surrounding the traumatic war event with threat and you will become fearful of these stimuli.

When you sense stimuli that were associated with the traumatic war experience, you will become fearful and you might have the fight-or-flight system on due to your amygdala.

This is why you will have some physical symptoms in the moments of war flashbacks thanks to the stimuli.

When the amygdala determines a threat, the hippocampus is naturally inclined to step in to assess the amount of danger the threat is exhibiting.

However, the hippocampus will not be able to do its function due to its deactivation in the traumatic war experience which leads the affected person with war flashbacks to freak out and petrified. 

Since you picked up the emotional associations of the traumatic war experience, you are more likely to not take note of your present surroundings and you really believe that the war flashbacks you are having are happening right now. 

What can you do during war flashbacks?

Here are some things you need to when war flashbacks come to intrude your day.

1. Tell and remind yourself that you are experiencing war flashbacks

2. Tell yourself that the worst-case scenario is already gone. The feelings and perceptions you are experiencing are recollections of the past that have already occurred. The real traumatic event has already happened and you conquered it and it was unexpected of you. Now it is the time to release the fright, hurt, anger, and/or panic. Now is the time to honour your traumatic war experience.

3. Get and keep yourself grounded. This activity means clapping your hands to recall yourself that you have feet and can run away now if you need to from war flashbacks. There may have been periods at prior times when you could not escape but now you can. Knowing and recognizing the sensations of all five senses can also help you ground yourself.

4. Breathe. When we get terrified, we eliminate normal and healthy breathing. As an outcome, our body starts to panic and get agitated from the lack of oxygen due to this kind of action. Lack of oxygen in itself triggers a lot of panic feelings and symptoms such as pounding in the head, sweating, tightness, feeling light-headed, shakiness, and dizziness. When we breathe deeply and intensely at the right amount, a lot of the panic feeling can be minimized. You engaging in breathing deeply and intensely are described as putting your hand on your diaphragm, pushing against your hand, and then exhaling so the diaphragm goes in.

5. Reconnect yourself to the present. You need to start to use your five senses in the present and maintaining your observation to the present. You need to observe and see then visualize the colours in the room, the shapes of stuff, the people near you, etc. Listen to the sounds present in the room such as your breathing, birds, traffic outside people, cars, etc. Feel the sensations of your body and what is touching it such as your clothes, your own arms and hands, the chair, or the floor assisting you.

6. Get in contact with your need for personal spaces. At rare instances when we are having war flashbacks, we reduce the awareness of where we were physically and mentally situated before and the world starts as if we do not have skin to feel our environment. You need to cover yourself in a blanket, hug a pillow or stuffed animal, lie on your bed, hide in a closet, anyway that you can feel and sense yourself truly protected and secured from the outside world that is full of dangers.

7. Get the support you need for your war flashbacks. Based on your battlefield and the aftermath circumstance, you may need to be isolated or may want someone close to you for relief. In either instance, it is vital that your loved ones are aware of war flashbacks and recognize the signs of these flashbacks so they can help and support the process even if that includes letting you be by yourself or being there.

8. Take a long period of time to heal your psychological scars from the battlefield. Sometimes, war flashbacks are very overwhelming and influential. Give yourself time to make the move from these powerful memories. You don’t need to force yourself to be proactive in adult activities immediately. Take a short nap, a warm bath, or some peace and quiet time. You need to be kind and compassionate with yourself in this kind of time. Do not injure yourself up for having war flashbacks.

9. Honour and regard your experience. Be grateful for yourself for having conquered at that tragic time. Respect your body’s need to experience and encounter a full variety of feelings.

10. Be patient. It takes time to cure the past wounds of the battlefield. It takes some settling measure of time to realize proper methods of taking care of yourself, of being a mature adult who has an openness to his or her feelings and building effective strategies of coping in the here and now such as engaging in mindfulness.

You can learn more about how to deal with these war flashbacks by buying this book on this website.

How to deal with your war flashbacks?

Here are some techniques on how you can deal with your war flashbacks.

Recognize Your Triggers

In dealing with war flashbacks, you have to avoid them from occurring again.

These flashbacks tend to be triggered by those stimuli that you have associated with the traumatic event as mentioned before.

This is why it’s vital for you to know the causes of your war flashbacks to prevent them from happening repeatedly.

By recognizing what your triggers are, you can either try to minimize your exposure to those triggers or if that isn’t possible at this time which is typically the case, you can be ready for them by finding and applying ways to cope with your different responses to those triggers.

In addition to treating your war flashbacks, this recognition of triggers can also minimize the disruptive thoughts and distressing emotions that are rampant as well.

You can record these triggers by buying this journal on this website.

Determine Early Warning Signs

War flashbacks may feel like they’re symptoms that can’t be recognized immediately and they’re more unpredictable.

But these flashbacks have their warning signs that you can look out for.

For instance, your environment may start to change immediately without warning.

Knowing the early warning signs of war flashbacks can help you prevent them from re-occurring. 

In this case, it’s vital for you to know beforehand that you are having war flashbacks.

This can help you do some coping mechanisms if you came across some of the early warning signs. 

You need to determine many warning signs of war flashbacks as possible. With these symptoms, you are more likely to stop yourself from having these intrusive flashbacks again.

Learn and Apply Grounding Strategies

Grounding is a specific method for you to get back at the present moment. In this case, it can help you get away from your war flashbacks. 

In this case, grounding has the same purpose and technique as mindfulness. To use this technique, you need to use and pay attention to all your senses. 

You need to connect with the present moment by paying attention to stimuli present at the moment.

The following are some grounding strategies that you can try:

  • Sound: Turn on powerful and loud music. Loud and jarring music will be difficult to neglect. And as an outcome, your undivided attention will be concentrating to that loud and jarring noise, bringing you into the present moment.
  • Touch: Tighten some pieces of ice in your hand. If you observe that you’re getting too involved to your war flashbacks, you need to grab onto a piece of ice. It will be hard to move your attention and concentration farther from the excessive coldness of the ice which will influence you to remain in connection with the present moment.
  • Smell: Sniff some strong and overwhelming peppermint scent. When you smell something strong or odiferous, it’s very difficult to concentrate on anything else. In this instance and moment of time, you sniffing peppermint can bring you into the present moment which slows down or eliminate the intrusive war flashbacks or other possible symptoms of trauma.
  • Taste: Bite into a lemon and savour the experience. The sourness of a lemon and the powerful and tangible sensation it creates and lingers in your mouth when you bite into it can persuade you to remain in the present moment and will be useful when you have war flashbacks for you to stay inside the here and now.
  • Sight: You need to take detailed storage of everything you observe around you. You need to relate to the present moment by taking everything whether people or objects that are around you. You have to determine all the colours you see. You can count all the pieces of furniture that are present around you. You have to eliminate all the noises you hear. You taking an account of your immediate and present environment can immediately get you in touch with the present moment and will not falter your atttention anytime soon.

You can learn more about these grounding strategies by buying this set on this website.

Enlist the Help And Support of Others

If you are starting to get into war flashbacks, you can find someone to assist you in minimizing the occurrence of these flashbacks.

You can ask someone you can trust and make sure that someone is knowledgeable about these flashbacks.

Seek Treatment

You can always look for treatment for your war flashbacks.

You can bring a loved one with you to assist you in talking about your condition to a mental health professional. 

Psychological treatments can assist and guide you in reducing your war flashbacks and live a more healthy quality of life.

You can learn more about therapies for people with these flashbacks by buying this book on this website.

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


In this brief blog, we have discussed war flashbacks, causes of war flashbacks, how to deal with war flashbacks, and more information about war flashbacks.

If you have any questions about war flashbacks, please let us know and the team will gladly answer your queries.

FAQs: war flashbacks

How do you prevent flashbacks?

You can prevent flashbacks by preventing foundation with SPF, use a setting powder that doesn’t have silica, apply a concealer that is only 1 shade lighter than your skin, and do a flash test. 

Why do we get flashbacks?

We get flashbacks because we are emotionally affected by the traumatic event that we have faced.

These kinds of memories are very vivid which can make you believe that you are still living the horrific nightmare.

This is because these kinds of memories can make you relive the memory even if you consciously don’t want to.

How do you know if you’re traumatised?

You will know if you’re traumatised when you are experiencing symptoms and signs of trauma like lethargy or lack of energy and a racing heartbeat.

The victim who has this kind of feeling may also have anxiety or panic attacks and be unable to deal with it in certain circumstances.

How long does emotional shock last?

Emotional shock can last for several hours or in some rare cases, it may last for days.

Others have become numb in several days, some in several weeks and for some, related to what they go through and shock can even go on for six weeks or more.

Is trauma emotional abuse?

Trauma can be connected to emotional abuse which can also be a kind of trauma.

An affected person who survives emotional abuse may not build PTSD symptoms but if they do, they may experience symptoms and signs like negative thoughts and aggression towards the stimuli that reminded them of the traumatic event.


Make the Connection. Flashbacks.

PsychCentral. Coping with Flashbacks.

Talkspace. What Happens in Your Brain During a PTSD Flashback?.

Verywellmind. Coping With Flashbacks and Dissociation in PTSD.