Fireworks can be PTSD trigger for vets

What can be a dazzling display for many celebrating Independence Day can be a distressing trigger for veterans.

The explosions from fireworks can be a stimulus those suffering with PTSD from time spent in foreign conflicts. PTSD presents different in each individual, but in general causes anxiety symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating and aggression in some cases. Many often experience flashbacks or waking dreams. 

Health care professionals like Gundersen Health System’s Crime Victims Services Specialist Erin Collins say there’s no shame in avoiding a trigger if it’s too intense, but long term that can end up being even worse.

"One thing we know about people who have anxiety symptoms is that if you avoid it too long, it reinforces the negative feelings and then your life becomes even more closed off from the things that you previously enjoyed," he said.

If you or a loved one believe they may be suffering with post traumatic stress disorder, health professionals recommend getting a screening to identify triggers and a plan for treatment.

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