Firecrackers are a beautiful and festive addition for many celebrations, but that is not the case for some members of the community.

For some veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), firecrackers may trigger negative emotions, and set them on edge.

What are some important things to know about PTSD in veterans before the upcoming holidays?

Firecracker Trigger

“Combat Veteran Lives Here. Please Be Courteous with Fireworks,” says the sign outside the home of Marine veteran Kevin Rhoades who suffers from PTSD.

According to Rhoades, the idea behind the sign is not to stop people from using firecrackers, but merely to open up the conversation about the condition, and to give both him and his neighbors ample time to prepare for the occasion. In fact, he says he might even light up firecrackers of their own. However, unexpected loud sounds of firecrackers in the middle of the night can bring back memories of the battlefield.

Veterans With PTSD

Rhoades is just one of the veterans who experience symptoms of PTSD because of sudden sounds such as firecrackers or the sudden backfire of a car. Just as an assault victim’s trauma may be triggered by a news story about an assault on another person, veterans may be triggered by loud sounds that may remind them of their combat experiences.

That said, it is just as important to know that not every veteran who suffers from PTSD are affected by firecrackers, and that the intensity of PTSD symptoms in a veteran may vary depending on various factors such as stress levels.

In regard to those who tend to be affected by the loud sounds of firecrackers, experts advise them to have a conversation with their neighbors if they are comfortable enough, since many people are simply unaware that their celebrations are affecting others. Unfortunately some veterans are still quite wary of discussing the matter for fear of bothering other peoples’ “fun” or because of the stigma that still surrounds PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. In some people, the negative effects of a traumatic event eventually get better in time and with proper self-care. However, some people who experience symptoms such as flashbacks, severe anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts, and nightmares that get worse for a prolonged period of time may already be suffering from PTSD, particularly if the symptoms already affect the patient’s daily life.

It’s important to understand that the symptoms of PTSD may manifest from a month after the trauma, to years after the traumatic event, and that the symptoms that they experience vary from one person to another, and may change over time.

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