The 4th of July is known for celebrating America’s independence with firework shows, but this may be difficult for some people.
Loud noises and bright lights caused by fireworks could affect veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.. Or PTSD.
Those flashes of light could trigger flashbacks, nightmares, or mood swings.
Counselors say the first step in dealing with this trauma.. Is recognizing an issue exists and telling someone about it.
“If you know and you have a gut feeling that fireworks are going to be difficult for you, sometimes it’s just as simple as saying ‘I think the fireworks are going to be difficult for me this year, so bare with me’,” Lyla Corkern, Owner of Finding Solace Counseling, said.
Corkern says there are people living with PTSD who haven’t been diagnosed, but they are still impacted by fireworks anxiety.
For those who are suffering, there are steps that can be put into place in advance.
“If that mean you don’t go at all, because you know it’s going to be difficult for you,” said Corkern. “If that means you go, but you make sure you have an exit strategy, so you know that if it gets to be too much, you can leave. If it means you talk to a therapist first and build up coping mechanisms, so that you can go and enjoy it with your family– wherever you are on that spectrum is okay.”
And for those who plan to celebrate at home– reach out to neighbors about the events planned for the evening, so there aren’t any surprises.
“It allows the person that suffers from PTSD to be able to start to wrap their brain around and prepare mentally for that experience, and if they’re not caught off guard they’re more easily able to react and respond appropriately,” said Corkern.
Counselors say for those avoiding the fireworks completely, you can use the shower or other loud noises for sensory distraction.