The 4th of July celebrates the freedom and independence that our veterans fight for, but for some of them, the holiday can be a very difficult day. Loud, sudden blasts and explosions that accompany fireworks can cause high anxiety, flashbacks and bring back strong, traumatic memories of war.
In fact, up to 30% of veterans, and 8% of civilians live with PTSD. This adds up to millions of Americans suffering from PTSD and anxiety disorders. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, intrusive traumatic memories, nightmares, insomnia, negative emotions, and hyperarousal – constantly on-edge to any potential threat, fast startle-response and continuously scanning their surroundings for danger.
Fireworks can exacerbate these symptoms, and cause sleepless nights, and nightmares when they do finally fall asleep, and also cause other symptoms to worsen.
Here’s some ways that those struggling with PTSD can reduce the impact of fireworks:
- Find out when fireworks are scheduled in your area and mentally prepare by making it as predictable as possible.
- Talk to neighbors and ask if they are planning on setting off any fireworks.
- If an option, get a great set of noise-canceling headphones, and plan an evening of listening to your favorite music. If that’s not an option, consider getting a set of earplugs to lessen the noise levels.
- Plan an evening with family & friends who can provide support and distraction
- If you’ve experienced extreme reactions, reach out to a therapist
If your neighbor is a combat veteran, or civilian living with PTSD please have a conversation with them if you plan to shoot off fireworks.