Prof. Nevzat Tarhan's suggestion for plan B on the post-traumatic period

Stating that nearly 15 million people were affected by the earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş and Hatay, and that these people were victims of serious trauma, Psychiatrist Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said the rest of Türkiye was also exposed to secondary trauma. Stating that we must learn lessons from the earthquake and shape our lives accordingly, Tarhan said, “We will not live with this trauma; however, we need to draw a new roadmap for our lives by remembering and learning lessons. Therefore, everyone should learn from here.”.

President of Üsküdar University, Psychiatrist Prof. Nevzat Tarhan evaluated the effects of earthquake traumas on individuals and coping with these effects. Tarhan said that psychological traumas emerge later, and that at first the trauma has a period of two weeks called acute stress disorder.

Being able to face trauma is crucial

Stating that this period usually lasts between 7-14 days, and extreme fear of earthquakes and avoidance behavior are observed during this period, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “Currently, this behavior still continues among those in the region. People cannot enter even though their houses are intact. In some families, the children left the region and went to other cities, but the elders remained there. We see many examples of this. This is actually a useful thing. It is important not to avoid trauma, but to be able to face the trauma, tolerate it and survive, yet accept it and survive.”. Expressing that it is expected to normalize here after the acute shock period has passed, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “When we mean normalization, what we mean here is that the needs must be met.”.

We succeeded in this test as a society

Tarhan stated that people should take steps by saying from now on "I have a safe harbor, I am safe, I meet my basic needs" and added, "In such cases, people look for a place of refuge. Here, if the people in that region feel that the government is on their side, that they feel that they are with the society, that they see and experience acts of the society in this regard, it means we, as a society, were successful in this test in this regard. There is a great sacrifice, this issue was also reported in the foreign press. This is actually the goodness of our society, we see that Anatolian wisdom is kept alive, that cultural values and beauties live, come alive and act. This needs to be continued. It has tremendous benefits for the people there. It has such an indescribably beautiful effect on the people there that it makes it permanent to love those lands. It ensures that we do not give up. This is the act of helping and sharing…”

Acute traumatic stress disorder can persist at the rate of 25% after three years

Referring to previous research on earthquake traumas, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, “As a result of the important research carried out in the region after the Kocaeli Gölcük earthquake, we see that at the end of three years, the symptoms called acute traumatic stress disorder still continue at a rate of 25 percent. In the studies conducted after the earthquake that occurred in 2011 in Japan, it was determined that acute stress disorder continued at a rate of 12%. In post-traumatic stress disorder, the person experiences the earthquake as if it happened yesterday rather than two or three years ago. They live in constant fear. There is a situation called reoccurring, which is called flashbacks.”.

Coping methods are different for everyone.

Tarhan stated that people use various coping methods in this situation and that some people tended to use alcohol or drugs. Stating that alcohol use is very common especially among soldiers who experienced post-war trauma in the United States, Tarhan stated that religious coping methods are also used, and said, “We have such a situation. We, too, tend to use more religious coping methods. All over the world, some people use religious coping methods, some use passive coping ways. They try to forget it by giving themselves to work or something. We suggest miniaturizing the trauma, not forgetting it.”.

Social support is very important in recovery

Expressing that it is necessary to keep the memory of the trauma aside but return to normal life, Tarhan said, “Some people mummify that trauma. They continue. This makes the person dysfunctional. It causes to loss of ability in the person. It disrupts all social communication, decreases efficiency, and the person avoids society and becomes isolated. Social support is very important to avoid these. Psychological tests are done to people, they are treated, it helps a lot, however, before that, social support is important. Group of friends and neighborly relations are very valuable in this context. In close relationships, people feel stronger when they come together with this issue and they overcome it better with that social support. As a society, we can do this well. There is a very serious moral support for those in the earthquake zone. The most important thing is moral support, all of which has a positive effect. The biggest risk here is that the earthquake victims feel alone. They should not feel alone. The biggest psychological trauma is feeling abandoned. This situation hurts people more than the material wound of the earthquake.”.

We will learn lessons and draw a new roadmap

Stating that approximately 15 million people were affected by the earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş and Hatay, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said that the rest of Türkiye is also exposed to secondary trauma, that is, they describe it as if we experienced it as if we had witnessed it. For this reason, Tarhan stated that we must learn lessons from the earthquake and shape our lives accordingly from now on. We will not forget this; however, we will not live with it. We will not live by talking about it all the time, however, we need to draw a new roadmap for our lives by remembering and learning lessons. This should be our plan B. We must learn our lessons from here so that we will not experience the same again.”.

All Türkiye should learn a lesson

Stating that situations such as disasters has a threat as well as an opportunity dimension, Prof.  Nevzat Tarhan said, “I saw a statistic after the Kocaeli earthquake. Per capita income of people in that region has increased much faster than in Türkiye in general. That trauma pushed them to restructure, to work harder, and to distract them from laziness. It has increased the level of development in that region, that is, in the Kocaeli region, that region learned a lesson after 20 years, to a large extent, but the rest of Türkiye did not learn from it. Thus, we should learn from this earthquake as the whole of Türkiye, not just the regions affected by the earthquake such as Kahramanmaraş, Hatay and Adıyaman.”.

Children should be given hope and a sense of a new path

Emphasizing that the event should be accepted after the recent earthquake disasters, but plans for the future should also be made, Tarhan said, “We will definitely make a B plan and create the innovation. In particular, it is necessary not to take away the sense of hope from children. If we take it from children, if we talk hopelessly and pessimistically, it will cause the greatest harm to children, hurting the developing spirit of children. Trauma does not hurt, but those negative situations do. Confidence weakens when untrue things are said to a child. You should not tell a child innocent lies about death. However, by saying ‘He went on a long journey, the journey of life, in the afterlife. He will not be able to come, but we will meet him in the future, we will go to him’ this approach is important.". Tarhan also said that children should be given the feeling that there is an option, hope, a new way, a new exit without falling into despair.

Üsküdar News Agency (ÜNA)