Expert psychiatrist evaluated the psychology of earthquake victims and made suggestions
While tens of thousands of civilians lost their lives as a result of earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş, many civilians survived the disaster of the century. Working in the Department of Psychiatry of Istanbul University, Istanbul Medical School, specialist Dr. Irmak Polat came to Hatay, one of the cities hardest hit by the earthquake, to provide psychological help to the earthquake victims. Polat, who voluntarily started working in the field hospital established by the US and supplied to Turkey, evaluated the psychological state of the earthquake victims and made important recommendations.
“It is necessary to give them the opportunity to experience their pain and these feelings”
In describing the psychological problems experienced by earthquake victims, psychiatrist-specialist Dr. Polat made important recommendations. Polat said: “Wrecks, ruins were sights that I had never seen before in my normal life. Here we can see what needs people have. We had the chance to experience everything here in a more real way. Of course very impressive. What we see and what we hear is very impressive. The patients that usually apply to me are in two groups. In one group, there are people who experience intense anxiety. When I interview these patients, I see patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder Or of course in panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, which is generally anxiety, in addition to that we see intense thoughts about the earthquake, the anticipation anxiety that comes with the occurrence of the earthquake and experiencing something like this weather I see a lot of avoidance behavior At home or in a concrete building, we see a lot that we avoid entering a building, avoid sleeping.
The earthquake, of course, put them to sleep. We see people who avoid sleeping because they will experience such danger if they sleep. I see a lot of this anxiety-intensive group of cases. I also see a lot of cases of grief, grieving the loss and maybe depression related to it. Of course, the losses of individuals are not the same. It’s not just the death of relatives. They may also suffer losses in all their material savings, perhaps in their hopes, perhaps in their plans for the future, and it is very difficult for them to cope with this loss. First of all, I definitely advise them to take care of their pain and not take any action to escape this pain, to escape this sadness. It is necessary to give them the opportunity to experience their pain and these feelings. It is necessary to support them a little and calm them down as much as possible, calmly but without suppressing their emotions. Because if we suppress their expression of these feelings, if we prevent them from crying, if we prevent them from speaking, they will not be able to express themselves enough, maybe they will not be able to understand this process. We definitely recommend it.”
“There must be assurance that their basic needs can be met”
Dr. Polat said: “If our patients have disturbances in other body functions such as sleep and appetite, we naturally want to correct them. It is very important to meet their basic needs and requirements. Because to protect mental health, people must be in good physical condition. be in good health. They must know and experience that their basic needs can be met and they must be able to trust that they will be met in the future. Reassurance must be given. Absolutely no offensive behavior must be shown. ears that listen to them and listen to them with understanding,” he said.
What should health workers who have survived earthquakes do?
Psychiatrist specialist Dr. Irmak Polat also made evaluations and suggestions about the health workers who continue to work despite the effects of the earthquake: “Our doctors and health workers who work here were primarily affected by the earthquake as individuals, they are victims of the earthquake. earthquake. They also had many physical, social and spiritual losses. He’s already on the side. Their own pain, the issues they’re trying to deal with are like I just said. In addition, they tried to help the affected people here with their own tasks and volunteer work at the same time. This can entail; They kind of ignore their own needs, and this can lead to severe fatigue and burnout later on. In this regard, our friends should be careful. I always remind my friends of health workers and those who want to meet me. Supporting team solidarity, giving rest times to those in charge of the administrative unit, providing for their physical needs with certainty, allowing them to take leave, and sometimes they are not allowed to voice their problems themselves, but ‘Are you okay? Do you need something?’ The question must come,” he said.