Fireworks may trigger PTSD in veterans, social worker says

Fireworks may trigger PTSD in veterans, social worker says

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - While many of us view fireworks as a July 4th celebration, others may only know them as a trigger for past trauma.

For veterans or anyone with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, that loud unexpected boom of fireworks going off could be completely overwhelming, prompting what social workers call an "exaggerated startle response."

That sound might be reminiscent of a past trauma - resembling the sound of mortar fire, gun rounds or explosions.

"It is unfortunate that the people who fight for our freedom so we can enjoy the Fourth of July, or Memorial Day, or Labor Day, don't get to enjoy these same freedoms that we take for gr anted," said Elizabeth Codega, the Trauma Recovery Program Coordinator at the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia.

Codega advised veterans who know fireworks may be a potential trigger to employ calm breathing exercises and relaxation skills.

"Once they realize that it's not an explosion in the way that it used to mean, we would encourage people to use their skills of calm breathing, to do good self-talk to remind themselves of where they're at, and it's the fourth of July. It doesn't mean imminent danger."

Also, for those who may be shooting off fireworks, she advised them to warn your neighbors. Codega said there are also apps that can help with breathing exercises for free that you can download on your phone.

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