Psychological first aid is important in earthquake!

While rescue efforts continue after the severe earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş, Psychiatrist Prof.  Nevzat Tarhan highlighted the importance of psychological first aid. Noting that people who were shocked by the earthquake want their feelings to be understood first, Tarhan emphasized the importance of people feeling safe during this period. Reminding that the most common mistake is to make sense of it and that now is not the time to make sense of this event, Tarhan said that after the initial shock, periods of protest and being passive begin. Stating that this situation can last between 6-8 weeks, Tarhan drew attention to the importance of experiencing the pain and being able to overcome this feeling…

Earthquake survivors need understanding and sense of trust

President of Üsküdar University Founding, Psychiatrist Prof. Nevzat Tarhan made remarks on post-earthquake traumas.

Noting that natural disasters such as earthquakes always affect not only a certain person but also large societies, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said that more than 18 thousand people lost their lives in two severe earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş that caused great damage in 10 provinces. Noting that an aid mobilization was started from all over the country to help the region in the earthquake, which is followed by the world public opinion, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan emphasized the importance of psychological first aid for people who experienced the earthquake.

Earthquake survivors want to feel understood

Noting that it is important for earthquake victims to feel understood first, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “In the event of such an earthquake, earthquake victims need to feel understood. As a society, we need to make people feel that we understand the sorrow and suffering of the people in that region very well. We already feel this as a society, we are a society with high empathy. We are a society that has such empathy to cry with someone crying. This is actually a virtue that comes from our culture.”.

We must do not make a mistake to make sense of it!

Stating that the earthquake has a trauma effect, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “As we did not forget the August 17 Marmara earthquake, this earthquake will not be forgotten either. The most common mistake here is making a sense of it. Now is not the time to make sense of this earthquake. This situation looks like this: when a fire broke out, it is not said why the fire broke out, why did it happen, why did you do this, why did you not take any precautions. First the fire is extinguished, cooled and then the reasons are discussed. As in other crises, an earthquake should not be made sense of it, but first, the work that needs to be done should be focused on. Here, as a society, everyone should concentrate on what to do at that moment.”.

They need to feel safe

Stating that the greatest need in such situations is sense of safety, Prof.  Nevzat Tarhan warned that “The most important need of the people in the region is the need for safety. They need to feel that they are not alone. They need to feel safe. This need reduces their sense of panic. Secondly, they need information. Uncertainty and silence only increase anxiety and fear.”.

In the moment of crisis, there is shock first.

Pointing out that there are stages that people go through during the crisis, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “In the first stage, there is a period of shock. In that period of shock, we can sometimes see that there are some people looking blankly during the shock stage. We can see that people whose relatives are under the debris are wandering around recklessly.  This is actually due to the severity of the shock. Brain blocks itself and makes the person apathetic.  This is actually due to the severity of the shock. Brain blocks itself and makes the person apathetic.  If a person does not do this, that person will lose their mind. Brain releases an extreme level of cortisol. The path in brain is blocked with the cortisol.  It resembles to that: when a person breaks their arm, the pain becomes so severe that that person cannot move their arm.  It is actually needed not to move it because it is dangerous and your body stops the movement as a reflex. Similarly, brain blocks itself. Some people have this period of shock.”.

Cognitive dulling and block are experienced

Stating that people can behave unusually during the shock period, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “Those who go to the earthquake area for help should consider this issue. This is the rule of psychological first aid, the first thing that someone who goes for intervention in a crisis such as a natural disaster will know in psychological first aid is the cognitive dulling and blockage in the person during that shock period. People need to accept their panic behavior. They will not correct the person's wrongdoing with advice. In such cases, they will hold the person's hand and say, 'We are with you, we want to help. Even staying with them silently might help.”.

It can take 6-8 weeks

Expressing that some people may experience a protest period after the shock period, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, "People may react in this period in a way by saying 'Why did this happen, why did this happen to me, I do not deserve this'. This period is followed by the passive period. A passive state can be seen as a depressive mood İn some people. A person becomes as if they went back to their childhood. Later, recovery period emerges. All of these usually is experienced within a 6-8-week period. System, Network and Cyber Security Manager

Insomnia in posttraumatic stress disorder

Noting that if all these processes continue for more than 6-8 weeks, it is possible to mention post-traumatic stress disorder, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “People with posttraumatic stress disorder cannot sleep at night. They cannot sleep because they think about it constantly or see this event in their dreams. It happens as something we call flashback like re-living it. The person relives as if the shock moment of the earthquake, the moment of the quake will happen again and again.”.

One needs to achieve overcoming this sorrow

Expressing that the person is always on alert and they can be startled frequently Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “They can be startled by sudden noises and they think this subject constantly. They talk about it for 50 minutes of 60 minutes. In case that this continues more than 6-8 weeks, help is needed. It is natural that it continues for 6 to 8 weeks and medication should not be prescribed during that period. Medication should not be prescribed if the case is not extreme. It is grieving; a person must experience the sorrow and achieve to overcome it.”.

Feelings of uncertainty must be eliminated

Noting that it is essential to meet the basic needs of people and to eliminate uncertain feelings of people during disasters and crises like an earthquake, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said “Uncertainty brings out extreme anxiety and fear regarding the future. Reactions here can change depending on person to person. Some people isolate themselves while some talk constantly and they try to tell same thing over and over again. Some people begin to think that there is no meaning to live and it is in vain.”.

Children, the elderly and the disabled need a careful approach

Noting that the approach to disadvantaged people is also important, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “Children have different reactions, old people have different reactions, and disabled people have different reactions. In such cases, the disadvantaged here are children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled and those in the hospital. We should not oppress the other party with our approach and behaviors. Constantly giving special treatment or caring extremely create a sense of gratitude and embarrassment. The other party may feel bad about this situation. A balanced attitude is required here. We should pay attention not to hurt the person being helped and not to make the person helped feel bad.”.

Prof. Nevzat Tarhan also noted that the earthquake matter should not be brought up with the earthquake victims unless they want it.

Üsküdar News Agency (ÜNA)