Warning issued over PTSD risks

Warning issued over PTSD risks

Victims of Saturday's mass shooting in Nakhon Ratchasima must talk through their feelings with professionals as well as other survivors to deal with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) they are likely to suffer, a seminar was told on Tuesday.

Speaking at the event, Asst Prof Dr Nuttorn Pityaratstian from Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Medicine explained that those who witnessed the gunman's actions "will re-experience the incident in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, and feelings of paranoia. In some cases, they will attempt to avoid everything in connection with the event yet be unable to calm down from a state of hyperarousal.

"If these symptoms persist longer than a month, victims are likely to be diagnosed with the disorder [PTSD]. However, patients can hope to recover in three to six months. I also had these symptoms after the bomb blast at Ariana Grande's concert at the Manchester Arena [in England in 2017]," said the psychiatrist, who attended the concert with his family.

The "Escape and Survive in Mass Shooting" public forum was held by Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Medicine and the Thai Red Cross Society yesterday at Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.

Dr Nuttorn, urged victims to share their experiences as a way of healing the trauma.

"When the incident took place, the horror of the unfolding tragedy prevents them from processing the situation properly, thereby resulting in blackouts and confusion.

Those who are unable to find a way to process their trauma will not overcome their PTSD and could go on to suffer further mental health issues such as depression or drug addiction, like war veterans," he said.

The psychiatrist said breathing and grounding techniques and forms of meditation might also help.

"You are calmer when you inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Besides, you can ground yourself in the present, not in the past, by seeing or touching people and the environment around you," he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the director-general of the Public Mental Health Department, said authorities had assessed the mental health of 247 relatives of those killed, injured or otherwise affected by the mass shooting.

"Ninety-one were found to be suffering from severe stress and are now receiving close care from our staff.

"For the remaining 156 who suffered mild or moderate stress, we will provide counselling support and do follow-ups," he said.

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