Hidden Signs of PTSD and How to Care for Your Loved One This 4th of July

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Hidden Signs of PTSD and How to Care for Your Loved Ones This 4th of July

The Fourth of July, with its fireworks and celebrations, can be a triggering time for individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This condition can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, and the sights and sounds of fireworks may bring back distressing memories or exacerbate symptoms. As we approach this patriotic holiday, it's important to recognize the hidden signs of PTSD and understand how to support those who may be struggling.

Recognizing the Hidden Signs

1. Increased Anxiety: Your loved one may become noticeably more anxious as the holiday approaches. They may anticipate fireworks displays with dread or have difficulty relaxing due to heightened alertness.

2. Social Withdrawal: Individuals with PTSD may withdraw from social gatherings or avoid public events where fireworks are likely to occur. They may prefer to stay indoors or isolate themselves to minimize triggers.

3. Irritability or Anger: Heightened stress levels can lead to increased irritability or anger outbursts. Your loved one may seem more easily frustrated or agitated, especially in situations where they feel unsafe or overwhelmed.

4. Insomnia or Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty sleeping is a common symptom of PTSD, and this may worsen around holidays like the Fourth of July when fireworks can disrupt sleep patterns.

5. Hypervigilance: Constantly scanning the environment for potential threats or triggers is a sign of hypervigilance. Your loved one may appear on edge or excessively alert, unable to fully relax. During the Fourth of July festivities, this particular response may not be as hidden as the sounds of the fireworks amid large crowds.

How to Care for Your Loved One

1. Plan Ahead: Discuss plans for the holiday in advance. Find out what events will include fireworks and strategize ways to minimize exposure if necessary. Offer alternative activities that your loved one may find more comfortable.

2. Create a Safe Space: If celebrating at home, create a quiet, safe space where your loved one can retreat if they become overwhelmed. This space should be free from loud noises and distractions.

3. Validate Their Feelings: Acknowledge and validate your loved one's feelings and experiences. Let them know it's okay to feel anxious or fearful, and reassure them that you're there to support them.

4. Limit Alcohol and Substance Consumption: Alcohol can exacerbate symptoms of PTSD. Encourage moderation or abstinence from alcohol during celebrations to help maintain emotional stability. Substance use comes with the highs and lows of the substance alongside the temporary relief of the hypervigilance that comes back in full force when one is sober again. Avoiding all intoxicants will support the long-term regulation of emotional responses. If you need extra support, consider contacting one of our US and Canada clinics. We can refer you to our partner clinics nationwide even if we are not in your area.

5. Be Mindful of Triggers: Pay attention to potential triggers and be prepared to intervene or offer support if your loved one becomes distressed. This may include using noise-canceling headphones, playing calming music, or engaging in grounding techniques.

6. Encourage Self-Care: Remind your loved one to prioritize self-care during this time. Encourage activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or spending time in nature. For more information on self-care, check out this article by the Veterans Association. 

Conclusion

As we commemorate Independence Day, it's essential to be mindful of the challenges faced by those with PTSD. By recognizing the hidden signs of PTSD and taking proactive steps to support your loved one, you can help them navigate this potentially triggering holiday with greater ease. Remember, your understanding, patience, and support are invaluable in their journey towards healing and managing PTSD symptoms. Together, we can ensure that everyone can participate in holiday celebrations in a safe and comfortable way. For more support as a veteran, save the following in your contacts in case you need extra support this holiday:

Veteran's crisis line: 800-273-8255, press option 1
Text: 838255
Webchat: veteranscrisisline.net

If you would like to support yourself, your peers, or your loved ones in a deeper way while learning about Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy, consider one of our stand-alone courses in our Numinus Training Program called Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration. You will learn the basics of preparation and integration after a psychedelic session. Email us for personalized support at training@numinus.com. Our clinics in Utah and our partner clinics throughout Canada are wonderful resources to begin healing from PTSD. We also have robust Clinical Trial offerings for those seeking support through their healing in PTSD and other mental health challenges.  We wish you a beautiful and peaceful holiday. A special thank you to Kellie Forziat Pytel, Ph.D., LPC-PA, NCC, ACS, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Educator, for sharing her resources for the Veterans with the  Numinus Team. 


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