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Fireworks and PTSD

PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is a significant mental health condition that

affects nearly 8 million Americans each year.

Most of us think of veterans who

have gone through a traumatic experience in combat when we think of PTSD.

 


How PTSD Affects the Brain

To start, PTSD is a normal response to traumatic experiences. Our brains "alarm system" wants to ensure our safety and will trigger much easier if we experience something that's similar to our traumatic experience. Those with PTSD have an overactive Amygdala, which means that an unexpected loud noise can trigger panic. Contrary to being overactive during an episode, our brains prefrontal cortex (which helps you think through decisions), is underactive during an episode. All of this creates a perfect storm for someone who has had a traumatic experience.

 

Trigger

When we say “trigger”, it’s a term used for anything that can signal thoughts, feelings, and memories from traumatic events that instigates PTSD symptoms. It initiates the process of PTSD in veterans.

 

Any combat veteran, regardless of PTSD status, are much more likely to be triggered by the stimuli that fireworks create than other individuals. When I think of July 4th, I think about the loud cracks that happen in the nighttime sky. When I

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think about a combat scene, I think of Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe in Platoon, where there’s loud cracks in the nighttime sky. The correlation between the two make it hard for individuals with PTSD to distinguish these sounds. These sounds can cause those with PTSD to have flashbacks, uncontrollable shaking, panic attacks, and other emotional symptoms.

 

How to be considerate

Only light off fireworks during the legal time

July 3 & 4, 1pm-11-pm

This allows veterans who struggle with PTSD to expect these loud cracks. Another way is to respect a neighbor who asks you to not light off fireworks at a certain time.

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