Earthquake: Survivors may suffer depression, post-trauma disorder —Surgeons

Medical specialists in surgery have called for a holistic approach to the treatment of survivors of the deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria, warning that many of them may suffer from depression and other mental health issues.

The experts stressed that beyond treating physical injuries, special attention should be paid to the mental health of survivors.

The orthopaedic surgeons stated that many of the survivors would find it very difficult to live normally after the disaster if they are not properly treated, warning that many of them may suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and other mental health issues. 

They urged countries, including Nigeria, whose citizens survived the earthquake not to neglect the mental health of the survivors.

According to the experts, the survivors may suffer trauma and become unresponsive even in dangerous situations.

Recall that on February 6, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, killing many people, levelling buildings. The death toll from the disaster has so far risen to over 35,000. The tremors of the earthquake were felt as far away as the island of Cyprus and Egypt.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise on measures necessary to ensure proper treatment of survivors, the experts, a consultant and general surgeon at Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Dr. Ebenezer Nkom, and an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Lawal Akinlade said there was a need to ensure psychiatrists and psychologists monitored the mental health of the survivors. 

They explained that victims suffering from PTSD might become impatient or develop addictions, heightened wariness, and depression. 

Dr. Nkom noted that the survivors need to be critically examined by orthopedic surgeons to ensure they were given both short and long-term medical attention. 

He added, “Most of them are going to have crunch injuries to different parts of the body in the head, knees, and abdomen. Most of them are going to have posttraumatic stress, they are going to have nightmares because people losing loved ones in a jiffy can cause trauma. 

“They, therefore, need psychiatrists, phycologist, the community, and the government to help them get out of it. The survivors need uplifting materials and resettling them so that they can get out of the trauma.  

“Some of them may not totally recover psychologically. Their injury would be assessed by orthopedic surgeons before embarking on the necessary treatment. They need different medical doctors to be able to assist them because there are short-term and long-term treatments in ensuring that those people survive and recover properly. 

“Some of them will not live a normal life, they will be faced with post-traumatic stress, and some of them will recover, it depends on who they are, but some people manage stress better.”

Also speaking, Dr. Akinlade said the survivors need to avoid trauma reminders, stressing that the mental and social health of the survivors must be critically analyzed. 

He said, “The sooner that trauma is treated, the less chance there is of developing PTSD. Their survival starts from where the disaster occurred, how they manage it and the survivors are treated.

“Their mental state is critical; that disaster can lead to depression, anxiety, and all sort of mental health disorders.

“They have to involve psychiatrists and other important medical experts to ensure they are psychologically, mentally, and physically okay. 

“It depends on how the management of the aftermath of the disaster goes that will determine if they will still be able to live a normal life. There will be mental, environmental, and facial outcomes.

“It can be difficult for them to get out of it when they think of everything that had gone with it, but when government provides succor, they have a better chance of surviving and recovering.” 


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