DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The loudest, brightest displays of patriotism this Fourth of July may cause as much anxiety as celebration. Psychologists say fireworks can induce traumatic memories or panic attacks in individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Loud noises, flashing lights or things like that can be triggering for people and can onset symptoms of the disorder,” explains Dr. David Baum, a clinical psychologist at the Dayton VA Medical Center.
According to the National Center for PTSD, about eight million American adults suffer from the disorder in a given year. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says the number of veterans with PTSD varies by service era, but it estimates between 10-30 percent of combat veterans experience it.
Dr. Baum says for those individuals, fireworks can trigger traumatic memories.
“That can be the start of an intense and long period,” he says. “It can cause a flashback, it can make people be really on edge and it can last for hours, if not days.”
Psychologists say many suffering with PTSD do so privately; avoiding talking about the trauma may be a symptom of the disorder.
Dr. Baum encourages neighbors to reach out to veterans living nearby, open conversations and celebrate the holiday respectfully.
“It think it’s important for us, as good neighbors, just to be mindful,” says Dr. Baum. “(ask yourself), ‘Do I have veterans living near me?’ And if they’ve expressed any preference for quiet — that would be something that would be helpful.”
You can learn more about the signs, symptoms and treatment options for PTSD by clicking here.