Fireworks trigger stress in war vets

July 02–The random pop-pop-pop of firecrackers will reach its seasonal peak with Monday’s Fourth of July celebrations, but this most patriotic — and pyrotechnic — holiday can drive many combat veterans away from parade routes and picnics.

Rather than hang around the house for barbecues with friends, some veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder seek out quiet places away from fireworks, which can set off flashbacks, anxiety and hyperawareness.

“If you are lighting off a firecracker in your neighborhood, there’s a very good chance that there is a veteran within earshot,” said Dr. John Mundt, a psychologist at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, whose PTSD support groups have devoted several sessions in the last few weeks to coping with the July Fourth fireworks barrage.

“To someone with PSTD, it can sound like small arms fire.”

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Categories: Health, Psychology

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