Fireworks and PTSD: Coping and caring

Local News

Fireworks are pretty loud, and sometimes the unexpected noise can mirror combat situations for veterans

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Many of us have already begun hearing fireworks in neighborhoods this year.

For those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hearing and seeing fireworks can make it hard to cope.

Fireworks are pretty loud, and sometimes the unexpected noise can mirror combat situations for veterans.

People suffering from PTSD aren’t all triggered by fireworks, and those who are triggered don’t all experience it in the same way.

It’s important to know what those symptoms are when someone is feeling discomfort. PTSD can mean psychological and physical symptoms.

It can cause increased heart rate, quickened breath and tense muscles. Psychologically, it can bring them back to an unpleasant memory, and this can stick with them for quite some time.

Because fireworks will likely be going off over the next week – in backyards more likely, too – experts shared some way those suffering with PTSD can cope.

Molly Duchon, a clinical social worker for the Veterans Administration, suggests using grounding techniques to keep yourself present.

“Think about what you can do to help remind yourself whatever memory it is bringing you back to it’s not happening right now. Things like grounding techniques – putting your hands on a chair, an object that you are holding. You can make lists in your mind,” Duchon said.

If you suffer from PTSD, you may want to avoid the loud booming fireworks all together or maybe you want to use those coping techniques and try to enjoy yourself. Both are possible.

The important thing is – if you are the one setting off the fireworks, give your neighbors a heads up.

“The unpredictability can make things a little harder to deal with. Giving people a heads up, at least, so they can have a choice. You know, I am going to come, try to cope, have some supportive people with me or I am going to go and put on those headphones,” Duchon said.

The Veterans Administration offers these services for those suffering from PTSD:

VA Healthcare in Northeast Ohio:  www.cleveland.va.gov/enroll

National Center for PTSD:  https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

Veterans Crisis Line:  1-800-273-8255 Press 1 / www.veteranscrisisline.net

Ohio Vet Centers 24/7 Hotline:  1-877-WAR-VETS

Veterans in Northeast Ohio have 13 VA locations to reach out to, to get help if they are suffering from PTSD. 

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