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Trauma takes its toll on flood-hit people

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Binita Jaiswal, TNN | Sep 28, 2011, 11.07PM IST

CUTTACK: People in flood-affected areas have fallen prey to mental disorders with their livelihood and livestock swallowed by the swirling floodwaters. The SCB Medical College and Hospital received four such patients on Tuesday. All were in a state of shock. "These cases were from the interior areas of flood-hit Jajpur and Kendrapara districts. We apprehend that the number will rise in the days to come," head of the department (mental health institute) Dr Nilamadhav Rath said.

Psychiatrists said flood victims suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and need proper treatment immediately. Thirty beds have been kept ready at the medical college to treat such cases. "Thousands of people have lost almost everything in the devastating flood. During such tough times, people suffer from trauma, depression and other psychological disorders and there is a sudden surge in the number of mental patients. We have kept a well-equipped ward ready to deal with such patients," Rath said.

But what worries the doctors is the fact that many patients who had recovered are showing symptoms of relapse of mental illness. "We have received a patient from Jajpur, who is diagnosed with relapse of mental illness. We are expecting more such cases. There is a high rate of relapse when a person is faced with such a huge calamity," Rath said.

Children are the worst affected by such mental disorders. "They fail to understand what has happened to them so suddenly. They fall victim to stress, trauma, anxiety and suffer from severe mental disorders. These children need proper counselling and mental therapy to recover," a psychiatriatist said.

On Tuesday, an advocate committee visited the ward at the medical college on Tuesday to review the preparedness. "We are quite satisfied with their preparation to deal with trauma patients," said P R Das, a member of the advocate committee.