Trauma: The Elephant in the Room.

 

For the last two decades, the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] has been a host to conflicts and unrest. Naturally, having negative experiences can have a negative impact on the psychological well-being of those who have been affected directly and indirectly by the unrest in Congo. One way in which the impact can manifest itself is in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

 

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. This can be caused by a traumatic experience such as physical, mental abuse or surviving conflict such as war and genocide.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Extreme alertness, also sometimes called ‘hypervigilance’
  • Disturbed sleep or a lack of sleep
  • Irritability or aggressive behaviour
  • Being unable to express affection
  • Using alcohol or drugs to avoid memories

Constant fear, flashbacks, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, feelings of despair, heart palpitations and breathing difficulties, Irritability or aggressive behaviour.

In the DRC mental health, globally, is not acknowledged, which can then lead to increased severity of the disorder and complications.  The physical manifestation of this disorder is often mistaken for witchcraft by those who are not aware of the disorder.  Therefore, rather than seek medical treatment, those affected sometimes turn to traditional healers or religious figures as a sole avenue of relief. To promote awareness for this, the next series of articles will focus on shedding more light into PTSD and mental health, as a whole, and how it relates to conflicts in Congo.

We would like to stress that if you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it is important to seek medical help right away. The sooner PTSD is treated, the easier it is to overcome it. Please seek guidance and support of an experienced therapist or doctor as soon as possible.

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