Service members with PTSD may struggle with July 4th fireworks

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – When it comes to a day when we should be celebrating our country’s freedom, it may be harder than you think for those who have served in the military.

Between 11 to 20 veterans out of every hundred have been diagnosed with PTSD and fireworks can often times trigger some pretty strong emotions for those suffering, bringing back flashbacks of their time in combat.

It’s not just the loud explosions of the fireworks, but also the smell of powder and flash of lights that may set off a PTSD attack.

One therapist in the east recommends having alternative options for the Fourth of July if you or your loved one feels the fireworks displays are becoming overwhelming.

“You should have a plan ahead of time, be prepared, have your ear plugs, and have your scents, whatever you need. But also have your support person and have a plan to, if this isn’t working we leave,” said Dawn Wrenn, an outpatient therapist at Coastal Carolina Neuropsychiatric Center.

“There’s no reason to push yourself beyond your capabilities just to try to stay so you always have an exit plan.”

Wrenn says symptoms you should watch out for include anxiety, social isolation, agitation, fear or disengagement.

She also says that if you feel the fireworks are too much for you, don’t be ashamed to simply walk away.

Wrenn says many service members who suffer with PTSD have more of an issue when it comes to unexpected fireworks, so if you plan on setting any off after the Fourth of July it’s courteous to let your neighbors who are in the military know so they can plan accordingly.

She says some PTSD victims have more of an issue when it comes to unexpected fireworks.

“Fireworks on the third of July, fireworks the weekend after the Fourth of July, fireworks the morning after the Fourth of July because you’re just trying to set them off can be a much bigger trigger because there’s not that automatic response that it’s probably fireworks,” she said.

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