Children should return to their daily routine as soon as possible.
Dr. Öz stated that it can cause major traumatic symptoms in both adults and children, and these symptoms can become permanent. Öz stressed that the problems that arise, especially if young children have no information about the earthquake, can lodge in the subconscious and cause major problems later in life.
Büşra Öz pointed out that the psychiatric symptoms that can develop after the earthquake can change: “Symptoms; It can vary depending on factors such as the children’s age, developmental period, the type of trauma experienced, or the distance from the earthquake site. The symptoms seen in the processes of trauma are actually a response to trauma, it is not considered a disease.
“Children can be scared, anxious and nervous”
Öz states that children and adolescents who experience earthquakes can experience problems that can affect their daily living needs and general mental health, “The first of these problems is the fear that arises as a result of the trauma they have experienced. Children who experience severe experienced traumatic events such as earthquakes They may feel scared, anxious and nervous They may be in a state of constant fear of experiencing the earthquake again and be constantly alert They may have nightmares about the earthquake and have difficulty with fall asleep and stay asleep. They may avoid places, people, or activities that remind them of the earthquake. Children who have lost a parent, friend, relative, or home in an earthquake may experience feelings of sadness and grief. During the grieving process, they may have difficulty concentrate on their environment and they can shape their thought content in the li ight of the events with the losses they suffered during the earthquake.
Beware of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder!
Dr. Öz noted that children with this disorder may have constant fear, anxiety, a state of alertness, and avoid situations that are reminders of the traumatic event. Expressing that depression can develop in children and adolescents who experience loss and trauma after the earthquake, Öz said: “Depression can manifest with sadness, lack of motivation, hopelessness, sleep and appetite problems. After earthquake trauma, children may find it difficult to trust others, connect and feel safe in their future lives. In the preschool period; bedwetting, loss of bowel control, irritability, restlessness, hypersensitivity, thumb sucking, nail biting, excessive attachment to the mother, separation anxiety, increased or decreased mobility, eating and sleeping problems, not being able to sleep alone, nightmares, somatic complaints, reliving the event symptoms can be seen,” he said.
Anxiety in school-going children; Büşra Öz, who states that it manifests with symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, inability to leave the parent, somatic complaints, attention problems, declining school success, reluctance to go to school, decreased interest, unhappiness, eating and sleeping problems, having nightmares, reliving the event, said ; He noted that it manifests as isolation, introversion, anger, aggression, risky behavior, somatic complaints, suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, fear, decline in academic performance, absenteeism from school, eating and sleeping problems, and attention problems.
“It will increase fear and anxiety even more”
Emphasizing the need to talk about the earthquake with the children who are in the earthquake zone, who felt the shaking or who were spoken to, and who were affected by hearing the earthquake on the images, Öz said: “Not talking to children and hiding the events will increase the fear even more. Before giving a speech, it is necessary to listen to the children’s feelings and thoughts. We can understand the feelings and thoughts of non-speaking children to the hand of their pictures or games.”
Büşra Öz emphasized the importance of using a simple and non-scary language when describing the earthquake, saying: “The mode of expression will change depending on the developmental stages of children. Earthquake can be explained with a game in the preschool period. Older children are exposed to more information because they spend more time away from home. While talking about the earthquake with children during this period; the motility of the Earth’s crust and how the earthquake originated as a natural phenomenon can be explained. As children get older, the number of questions they ask and the amount they want to learn will increase. It is necessary to try to give correct but short and clear answers to these questions. The need of the child, who is briefly informed about the earthquake and its consequences, is to feel safe. Knowing what precautions have been taken for the safety of his home and school can be a relief to the child.
Öz noted that children who migrated to other provinces as a result of the earthquake continue to attend their schools and stressed that in this case, families should tell their children that they may have new friends who have just entered the classroom. Emphasizing that stigmatizing and remembering words such as earthquake survivor or disaster survivor should not be used, Büşra Öz said: “It can be termed as a new friend or a new child. It should be discussed that the new friend may be showing signs of stress from moving to a different city and school. If he comes across such a situation, it should be noted that he can behave more cordially and positively towards his new friend and invite him to the games.
“Children need play”
Pointing out that children need play, Dr. He continued his argument as follows; “First of all, children must be provided with safe shelter, food, access to clean water, the medical treatment they need, and they must be protected from potential violence and exploitation in an environment of chaos. Children need play to express their feelings and reprocess events in their mind. It’s beneficial to provide this environment, to be their playmate, to let them manage the game. Establishing a routine by getting kids to eat, sleep, and exercise regularly at the earliest opportunity will increase their sense of confidence and normalcy. Children can be involved in charitable work in an age-appropriate way. Children in the region can be assigned to activities such as collecting the environment they stay in, organizing the furniture; they give them a sense of control and can promote resilience and recovery.”
“We must try to provide school for children”
Emphasizing how important it is for children to return to their daily routine as soon as possible so that their trauma is not permanent, says Dr. Öz said: “This applies to children living in the earthquake zone as well as other children who are far away. extension of the holiday; It causes children to be more exposed to the news, increase their anxiety and stay away from the support system in school. Suitable areas must be created for children in the earthquake zone and order must be ensured at school. To protect children outside the earthquake zone from trauma, they should be restricted from watching the news, spending time with them and talking to them,” he said.
Needs professional support
Advice to parents of children and young people after the earthquake, Dr. Öz said: “Knowing that some symptoms may develop in the early period, primarily to support children, to ensure their unity with their families and peers, to encourage them to draw and play, to establish a routine appropriate to the conditions of the place where they are, to ensure that those outside the earthquake zone continue their daily routine, especially at school. If the state of anxiety and fear persists throughout the day, the child withdraws and withdraws from his social environment, including his friends and family, his mood fluctuates greatly during the day, he exhibits aggressive and destructive behavior, he has problems with daily functions such as sleeping and eating, if the sad memories of the earthquake are often stirred up in his mind, if he engages in self-injurious behavior, he should seek professional mental health care,” he warned.
Finally, Büşra Öz added that they are offering no-appointment examinations to earthquake-affected children and adolescents who have migrated to Düzce in the child and adolescent psychiatry outpatient clinic of Düzce University Hospital.