What is PTSD?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that develops after a person is exposed to a traumatic event. Though it can happen to people of all ages, older adults are more likely to be severely affected by it. This is because they have a greater chance of going through a set of traumatic experiences in their lifetime.
These can include an unexpected death of a loved one, a serious illness, accidents, or injury to oneself or close ones. Even incidents like a robbery at home or being victims of natural calamities like earthquakes, floods and cyclones can trigger PTSD in seniors. In fact, manmade disasters like terrorist attacks and riots can also cause PTSD. War veterans are also known to suffer from PTSD due to the horrors they faced during the war.
Various studies conducted after several natural calamities showed a high rate of older adults affected by PTSD. While disaster management is carried out on a large scale to rehabilitate the population and the area after a natural calamity or a natural disaster, the need for mental healthcare has not been highlighted for so long. Relief to the affected is provided only in terms of physical needs and treatment. Mental health has been majorly ignored. Only in recent years has the concept of public mental health management gained prominence in India.
The Indian Psychiatric Society has been consistently working to raise awareness about mental disorders and the need to provide mental support in times of disaster.
Support Groups for PTSD in Elderly
PTSD in the elderly, in most cases, is caused due to witnessing the death of a close one. However prepared they may be, they might experience PTSD after the actual event.
Support groups are created to provide support to such older adults who find it unable to move on even after others have gone forward. These groups provide support unconditionally and without judgment. They also help give the older adult accountability for their actions so that they recover earlier.
However, there is very little awareness regarding mental illnesses including PTSD. In fact, talking about mental disorders is almost taboo in India. Nobody acknowledges that seeing a psychiatrist can actually be good for your health.
Right now, there is a support group called Chayn India that takes care of women facing PTSD due to various issues including abuse.
Another foundation that is working on providing counseling to people suffering from mental disorders or those who have questions related to these is Vandrevala Foundation. They have trained counselors available on their helpline numbers to support patients and their caregivers.
India needs more awareness about PTSD. Such issues should be brought to the forefront and discussed freely and without shame. Only then will older adults suffering from PTSD gain a platform to open up with their issues.
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