Stress disorder rising among flood-affected people in Kashmir

Srinagar: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is on the rise in Kashmir Valley after the worst ever floods hit the state earlier this month.
Psychiatrists in Srinagar say that there has been a remarkable increase in the number of patients who were suffering from “early symptoms” of PTSD.
PTSD is a condition that develops after an individual goes through a terrifying ordeal that involves physical harm or the threat of a physical harm.
“The condition develops amongst the people who may have gone through some physical harm or might have witnessed their loved ones or the people around them being harmed,” Dr Bashir Ahmed, a psychiatrist at a medical camp in Hydepora, told a news agency.
According to doctors, PTSD patients suffer “panic attacks” if any event reminds them of the ordeal they have gone through.
“Earlier we were treating PTSD patients who were victims of the turmoil in the Valley. There were patients who had seen their loved ones die or the people who themselves have had close shave with death. But now we are treating patients who are witness to the ordeal caused by the floods,” said Dr Waseem Wani, another psychiatrist at the camp.
The doctors say that though it takes around three months for a person to fully develop the symptoms, they are trying their best to treat the disorder before it takes a more alarming shape.
“The full-blown symptoms take more than three months to show, but a large number of flood victims are already showing these symptoms,” Dr Bashir said. “Kids suffering from PTSD show different symptoms as compared to adults, but if left untreated, PTSD could become fatal in the years to come,” he said.
Citing the case of 12-year-old Mehreen Jan, Dr Wani recalls how she was afraid of entering the house when it drizzled last night, fearing that flood might again hit.
“In this case, the girl who once enjoyed dancing and playing in the rain is now afraid even to see the clouds,” Dr Wani said.
“At such a young age she has had a close encounter with death. Before being rescued, she stayed without food and water for several days,” Mehreen’s father Manzoor Ahmed said.
“She is so scared to see clouds and rain that she refuses to enter the house. This is the same girl who once used to love the sound of raindrops falling on the rooftop,” he said.
Mehreen, along with her family, has been living at a relative’s house in Hyderpora locality after they were rescued from their marooned house in the posh Raj Bagh of the city.
Last night when it “moderately rained” in the locality, she did not sleep the whole night.
“As it started to rain, she refused to enter the house. And when we persuaded her that it was much safer to stay in the house, she did not sleep for a single minute,” Manzoor said.
Doctors are treating Mehreen and hope that she will be fine soon.
Another problem that the doctors are facing is the hiding of symptoms by people because of fear of social stigma.
“In our society there is a social stigma attached to psychiatric disorders, so people try to hide their symptoms. If anyone is suffering from the symptoms of PTSD, they must come forward for its treatment, before it is too late,” Dr Wani said.

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