Expert says sudden, unexpected fireworks worsen PTSD symptoms

While we all expect to hear and see big fireworks displays this Independence Day, what we don't all expect is to get woken up in the middle of the night by the sudden pops and bangs. 

Psychologist Dr. Linda Sircus talked to us about the unexpected fireworks that cause serious, nervous reactions to veterans dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. 

The concern isn't necessarily with the Fourth of July night, but with the shows that happen before and after. 

"The sounds that people aren't prepared for that are typically so devastating for them," she says. "And because a symptomn of PTSD is this hypervigiliance, hyper arousal, they are more reactive to loud sounds particularly when they're not prepared."

"For a lot of veterans, it brings bad feelings and brings on Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, and I've had a few friends on the Fourth who've been cowared in a closet," says Steve Stevens, who's a veteran himself. 

Not exactly where the men and women who served our country - and helped deliver this freedom - belong on America's birthday. What happens to many of them caught off guard can be hard to watch. 

"I think that ppl can go into a defenseive mode and typically drop to the gruond, maybe cover, put their hands over their head and people observing that might think, 'What is this person doing?' and they may not have any idea of this individual's history," says Dr. Sircus. 

She says PTSD isn't just hard for people recently in combat.

"It doesn't matter how recent their combat experience has been; it can be decades old. So you can have people in nursing homes responding this way," she says. 

So if you're going to do a fireworks show, it's recommended you do it at a time when it's expected - not on other days or off hours. 

And as for veterans and members of the military, Dr. Sircus recommends noise canceling headphones or ear buds and to listen to some music to distract yourself. 

"I think it's important to appreciate that if you have a problem in close spaces, or maybe in crowds, maybe not put yourself in that space. There are also signs that you can put up (that say), 'Please be courteous with fireworks, a veteran lives here.'"