Pakistan -- Monday January 02, 2006 - Zil Haj 01, 1426 A.H.
Quake-hit women, children develop psychological disorders
By Javed Aziz Khan
PESHAWAR: Nightmares, insomnia, depression and other phobias are the main psychological disorders that the quake-stricken people, particularly women and children, have developed since last year'October 8 disastrous earthquake.
The psychological condition of men is relatively better as compared to the shaken women and children. Most of the affected people are not normal in their general appearance, their speech is broken and they see no attraction in life after the tragedy, which affected more than three million people of five districts in the NWFP and four in Azad Kashmir.
Most of the quake-hit people were suffering from nightmares, insomnia, irritability, phobias and frustrations.
They were worried about their future and were struggling for normalcy of life," disclosed a report compiled by two women psychotherapists, Syeda Adeel and Tahira Ashraf, of the Dosti Pakistan, after treating 1,075 quake victims in three major hospitals of Peshawar and others in the relief centre at Hayatabad and tent villages in Balakot and Battagram.
Members of a family from Garlat Balakot, which has returned to their hometown, were suffering from a number of psychological complications before they were given psychotherapy. The 25 year old graduate, Shafeena Azhar, who had been in hospital for treating her fractured leg, looked abnormal in general appearance after loosing her son in the tragedy and used to be aggressive.
She was suffering from nightmares along with narcolepsy, higher depression, low appetite and used to cry after short spells. Her spouse, Azhar, was upset, frustrated and very much depressed after losing his two brothers, a sister and son. Five years old daughter of the couple had lost sleep and appetite.
The eight-and-half-year-old Salma of Qadirabad Balakot was the student of Class VI at the time of the disaster. Her general appearance was normal but she used to cry sometimes and was suffering from insomnia with nightmares. Her depression level was also high. Kulsoom, 14, and Saira, 11, from the same locality, were also suffering from nightmares but had no other psychological disorders. For them there was no charm left in life.
"After attending few therapy sessions, all the three children recovered a lot. They wanted to continue their study so we provided them books, colour pencils and other things to engage them in extra curricular activities. They also participated actively on World Children's Day functions at the relief centre," the report claimed.
Among all the disorders, nightmares and insomnia was the most common, found in majority of the quake-shaken populace. It was found that majority of the affected people have lost hope and have no attraction in life, studies or jobs.
The report compiled by the two female psychologists has suggested proper psychotherapy to the entire population of the quake-hit areas so they could return to their normal life. It asked for organising different activities to engage the shaken people so they could be brought out of their thoughts.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depressions, anxiety, phobias, substance abuse and drug addiction along with social problems of dependency, beggary, child smuggling and increase of crime and prostitution is feared among the affected people in case proper attention was not paid to their psychological treatment.