There are many ways that we can be reminded of a traumatic experience. A trauma reminder makes us think about or remember something about what happened. It can be a person, a place, a thing, a situation, or a feeling inside. Trauma reminders can cause us to feel afraid, upset, or keep us on the lookout for danger. Our bodies may react and "remember," even though we are not aware of having been reminded.
Trauma reminders are everywhere in the aftermath of traumatic experiences and can occur for years to come. Because they are usually brief and happen every so often, we do not get used to them. Instead, reminders may act to restart our posttraumatic stress reactions or behavior. After a reminder, we can become irritable, have mood changes, have trouble sleeping, or find it more difficult to study or do work. It is not always easy to recognize reminders. One of the most difficult results of a shared trauma among family members is that, in the aftermath, and for years to come, family members may serve as trauma reminders to each other.