PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress disorder) can be devastating and it is a very precarious issue that needs distinctive attention, especially in the areas heavily affected by earthquake. In a developing country like Pakistan, where issues similar to PTSD are usually overlooked, even though many people have problem coping and adjusting after a disturbing event. PTSD involves experiencing flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive memories of a tragic event. Many people fall apart after a tragic incident such as a natural disaster and have problems going back to their usual routine. A team of psychologists went to Bagh, Kashmir after 2005 earthquake that took lives of about 80,000 people in the northern parts of Pakistan, where they conducted therapeutic sessions and looked into issues faced by the residents post-earthquake. Many of them reported having severe headache, nightmares, panic attacks and flashbacks.

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake jolted Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday, 26th October 2015. This earthquake was followed by 41 aftershocks and took lives of more than 300 people and injured approximately 1500 people across Pakistan. Almost about 25 people reported having nausea followed by post-traumatic stress let alone in Lahore.

The strength of stress cannot be imagined in the areas heavily affected by earthquake. Reaching out to people living in remote areas has always been challenging most of the villages in northern areas have not even received medical facilities, consequently it is hard to envision the intensity of PTSD and handling it without any psychiatric treatment.

Children and women were adversely affected by PTSD, and if these symptoms continue to appear for more than 3 weeks it can turn into an acute stress disorder.

Currently there are no prevention techniques to resist PTSD because traumatic events happen abruptly. PTSD can be treated by employing several therapies such as exposure therapy that involves safely exposing the person to a situation he finds frightening so that he learns to cope with it proficiently. Cognitive therapy can also be used, it allows you to recognize the thinking patterns that keep you trapped. EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is another therapy used to treat PTSD. It involves using directed eye movement to process memories of the stressful and catastrophic event.

There are several medications that can also be used to fight PTSD such as certain anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants that help fight symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. They should be acquired only after consulting a psychiatrist.

MAHEEN AHMED,

Lahore, December 1.