Collapsed building survivors prone to anxiety, stress disorder, need psychological interventions –Psychologist

A Consultant Clinical Psychologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Dr. Charles Umeh says survivors of collapsed buildings are prone to having anxiety and acute stress disorder.

The psychologist also noted that if psychological interventions are not instituted early for such survivors, they may develop a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Speaking in an interview with Ugamatv, Umeh, who is also a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said there is a need for a thorough psychological intervention for survivors of traumatic incidents.

He said, “the survivors might go through acute stress disorder with all the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

“Depending on how they are managed, after a month or thereabout, some of them might develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; if they are not debriefed,” he said.

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act or rape, or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence, or serious injury.

Speaking further, the psychologist noted that the survivors of a traumatic incident must be physically examined to know if they have developed any injury and be treated accordingly.

He said, “In some cases, they should check if the survivors sustained any internal bleeding, and by the time they are certified physically okay, then the psychology intervention should set in. 

“The victims should be sent for psychological assessment to see what their emotional state is in reaction to what happened and be able to know if they have predisposing factors.

“For instance, somebody that had witnessed such event might not be as traumatised as someone who is experiencing it for the first time. 

“Also, someone going through some emotional stress or depression during that period may be prone to acute stress disorder than those who were emotionally stable when the incident occurred. 

“This is when the psychologist’s shoulder comes in to be able to debrief and desensitise them.

He added that there should be a preparatory for a second psychological evaluation after 30 days for a post-traumatic stress assessment to examine the tendency of survivors developing PTSD. 

“If they come down with PTSD, intervention should be instituted on anxiety management, living therapy to bring them to their original state. 

“These things are supposed to be in place for the victims of the collapsed building but who will bell the cat?” he asked.

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