“We expect some psychiatric disorders to emerge after the disaster”

After the earthquake, those who witnessed this disaster from afar, especially the victims of the earthquake, went through different psychological processes. To support this process, psychologist Assoc. Dr. Oya Mortan Sevi understood the process and provided information on how to handle it.

a second trauma

Sevi explained that the reactions that occurred in the first 24 hours after the earthquake were shock reactions, Sevi said: “After that, stress reactions such as anger, intense helplessness, fear, guilt, unhappiness, difficulty remembering the event, restlessness, insomnia, increased and decreased appetite appeared. It was not expected that we would be able to continue our lives after experiencing such a disaster. We react normally to an abnormal situation. We have suffered great losses, so we experience grief reactions and grief. Now the period of reactions after the shock. We try to understand what we are experiencing now. On the one hand, survivors experience both a loss of meaning and a loss of integrity regarding their existence, a loss of confidence and a loss of hope. We have been exposed as a country to a traumatic event, we experience a secondary trauma, but we call this complex trauma caused by events such as disasters that are more then occur consecutively.

Noting that the earthquake had consequences due to negligence and a natural disaster, Sevi said: “Natural disasters such as earthquakes are situations that naturally cause trauma to the exposed persons; however, in the process in which we live, we cannot regard this as a situation that has only arisen naturally. There is negligence by human hands. When it is neglected, we view the situation as a man-made trauma. Man-made traumas such as sexual assault, accidents and physical violence have a much greater psychological impact and are more likely to cause psychological discomfort. Because the person remembers that he or she can be harmed by another person like himself and thinks how unfair it is. This situation undermines the belief in justice and equality and harms the person.”

What do children live

Sevi stated that children are more affected than adults in the post-earthquake period and said, “In this process, children’s neurodevelopmental processes and psychosocial development are also disrupted. It is very important to be able to observe what our children are going through in a safe environment. This also has some difficulties. For example; In infants, it is not possible to observe these effects from the outside. Effects such as bed-wetting, reluctance to separate from their mother due to increased anxiety, nail biting can be seen in school-aged children; but we can think that the baby is not affected at a younger age. However, they are affected. There is a serious loss of trust in children. They lost their families, school grounds, friends. First of all, it is very important to create an area of ​​trust for them. It’s not just about sending toys to the earthquake area and playing with them, what they need now is to observe the effect of playing games under adult supervision. It is very important to raise awareness among families,” he said.

On the importance of maintaining a state of well-being rather than normalizing, Sevi said: “Normalization is not necessary; but it is necessary to survive. Not everyone’s way of life can be the same. Even within the same family, different processes develop. It is important to understand that what we experience has stages and each individual reacts differently at these stages. Life must also go on. What we need is not to normalize, to ignore what happened, to continue as if nothing happened. What we need is to maintain a state of well-being, transform with the grieving process, seek meaning, find meaning.”

Speaking about the difference in people’s stress tolerance levels, Sevi said, “There are people who already have a psychiatric disorder, who have little support, who are raising a child alone and who come from a low socio-economic background. They are more affected. It is necessary to consider the concept of sensitivity, endurance and stress. There are some psychiatric disorders that can be seen in individuals with low resilience, which we believe may arise when people are left alone for a while and face this pain more. Acute stress disorder, which we consider as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, burnout syndrome, eating disorders, addictions can occur. Unfortunately, instead of grieving and talking, we prefer to suppress, delay and switch off, so we develop non-functional ways like eating or coping with a substance. In this process, it can be expected that he will want to be socially isolated, have difficulties in impulse and decision making, and self-esteem will decrease. To grieve and share our pain, we must first allow difficult feelings.”

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