‘Psychosocial help is needed in the first period after disasters’

Associate Professor at KTU Farabi Hospital, Department of Mental Health and Diseases. Dr Demet Sağlam Aykut said that after the earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş and Hatay, disaster victims, their relatives, relief teams and all individuals in the society were psychologically affected. Assoc states that the stress after traumatic events such as earthquakes is normal and varies from person to person. Dr Aykut stated that the psychosocial support to be given to people who have experienced earthquake trauma is important.

associate Dr Aykut said: “The symptoms that occur in most people when a disaster strikes are a healthy response to an abnormal event. Individuals affected by disasters face intense and understandable stress and show healthy responses accordingly. Therefore stress symptoms that occur in the acute period following disasters such as the earthquake disaster we experienced should be considered healthy responses to an abnormal situation.


Explaining the stress symptoms that occur in the early period after disasters such as earthquakes, Aykut said, “Symptoms of reliving the disaster can be seen in the form of unwanted memories and dreams and feeling like you are reliving the earthquake over and over again. Thinking that these symptoms will never go away, that they will get worse, and that they will develop a serious illness, they may engage in avoidance behaviors and stay away from places, people, and situations that remind them of the earthquake.There may be frostbite, numbness, sense of detachment and disconnected from the world, apathy, emotional bluntness, different perceptual experiences and a sense of being unreality Thinking that danger could be at any moment, symptoms of over-excitement in the form of constant restlessness, can easily startle, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, anxiety and tantrums are observed in addition to these symptoms there may be depressive symptoms, sleep disorders, eating disorders, energy loss, physical complaints and pain complaints. After such devastating natural disasters, psychosocial support should be provided to individuals in the initial period to support the natural process. It is important to respect him and wait for him to follow his natural course without intervening unless there are serious reactions.”

Assoc. states that traumatic events such as earthquakes are in memory and can be triggered even by small stimuli. Dr Aykut said: “It is clear that traumatic symptoms can occur even years after the event in some individuals. Post-traumatic stress disorder is considered when traumatic stress symptoms such as re-experiences, hyperarousal symptoms, and avoidance behaviors that occur after a traumatic event persist for more than a month and this condition becomes chronic.


associate Dr Aykut said that people who have experienced earthquake trauma should be helped to restore a sense of security: “It is necessary to ensure safety, help create a sense of security, provide basic needs, improve communication support with family members, calm the individual down, listen effectively and empathetically, get informed and access services. Unless the symptoms are very severe, drug therapy should be avoided. The mourning of people who have experienced earthquake trauma should be respected. During this time, comforting words can make the person angry and make them feel worse.”

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