Gaja vic­tims fac­ing sleep­less­ness, pal­pi­ta­tions, cry­ing spells: IMH team


MANY sur­vivors of Cy­clone Gaja are suf­fer­ing from psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­ders re­sult­ing in sleep­less­ness and pal­pi­ta­tions, a team of psy­chi­a­trists from the In­sti­tute of Men­tal Health (IMH) has found.

The team of 11 psy­chi­a­trists from the Chennai in­sti­tute, headed by Dr Aravin­dan, is un­der­tak­ing post-dis­as­ter as­sess­ments among cy­clone vic­tims in the af­fected ar­eas of Pudukkot­tai district on a re­quest from district men­tal health pro­gramme of­fi­cer R Karthik Deivanayagam. The team is record­ing vic­tim ac­counts. As­sess­ment will con­tinue in Pudukkot­tai, be­fore shift­ing to three other dis­tricts.

“Most peo­ple are still un­able to come out of the trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ences caused by the cy­clone. Vul­ner­a­bil­ity has es­ca­lated among the al­ready vul­ner­a­ble sec­tions. Mar­ginal farm­ers who availed jewel loans are wor­ried as they are uncertain as to whether they can get back mort­gaged jewels. Women, whose hus­bands are de­pen­dent on al­co­hol, are in a panic as they are the sole bread-win­ners. Fam­ily mem­bers of per­sons with men­tal dis­abil­i­ties are in greater de­pres­sion,” Aravin­dan said.

“The ma­jor com­plaints are sleep­less­ness, pal­pi­ta­tions, rest­less­ness and cry­ing spells. Some are say­ing they are un­able to sleep even for two hours a day. This is more among mid­dle-aged per­sons. Sur­vival fear has gripped them,” Karthik Deivanayagam said.

The team will do fol­low-up as­sess­ments a few weeks later. IMH plans to bring out a lo­cally-rel­e­vant mod­ule on post-dis­as­ter psy­cho­log­i­cal first-aid which it will use to train doc­tors at gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tals and pri­mary health cen­tres.

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