In 2008, when Ajmal Kasab and his allies casually walked onto the Mumbai CST and mercilessly fired on the unsuspecting crowds there, no one could have imagined the amount of loss he would cause. In 2019, 11 years after the horrible attack, the trauma still manifests itself, causing severe mental stress in not only the victims but the witnesses and among the people of the nation as well. The attack, as well as the aftermath, were unprecedented in their magnitude. The whole country still remembers the terrorists walking around the railway station, shooting people at sight. And who can forget the image of the thick smoke billowing out of the iconic Taj Hotel?
It was a terrible night.
Many people who were in Mumbai during the 2008 attack still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD usually happens after a large-scale traumatic event. It involves functional impairment and related mental conditions like depression, anxiety disorder, and suicidal thoughts.
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After 26/11 too, there were a huge number of people showing signs of PTSD. However, most clinical psychiatrists feel that the number of people who are availing treatment for PTSD is only a tiny percentage of the ones actually affected.
Seeing gunfire and bodies and blood everywhere is not anyone’s cup of tea. Most people were looking forward to a day of travel or relaxation when the unimaginable happened. With bullets being sprayed all around you indiscriminately, incurring PTSD after the attack is not surprising.
“The panic of feeling death or disability so close to you and seeing your loved ones in danger is likely to tip anyone over the edge.”
The panic of feeling death or disability so close to you, seeing your loved ones in danger and not knowing whether they will survive this ordeal or not, and seeing people, whether related or otherwise, dead around you in a matter of a few minutes is likely to tip anyone over the edge. The consulting psychiatrists at Sir JJ Hospital, GT Hospital, Saifee Hospital, and Nagpada Police Hospital in Mumbai still see people with PTSD not being able to come to terms with normal life, even after so many years.
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There is no saying what can trigger an attack for a person suffering from PTSD. It can happen even due to minor, everyday occurrences like watching TV or a loud noise coming from bursting of fire-crackers, falling of objects, etc. They may behave irregularly and give unexpected reactions to seemingly mundane activities. Some of them show hypersensitivity to light or sound and experience nightmares and hallucinations.
Psychiatrists say that people with PTSD can suffer from sudden panic attacks to feeling excessive guilt for being alive or not having saved their fellow humans. Even the police personnel who had witnessed the various terrorist attacks at CST and the Taj Hotel were given Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy so that they could resume their lives.
People with PTSD after a terrorist attack can be very sensitive to their surroundings. All they need is support and understanding along with therapy to be able to heal from the extreme trauma they have been through.
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