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Friday, February 1, 2008

Nepal's Civil war has definitely affected many..

Depression, anxiety, headache, flashbacks and nightmares, insomnia, bedwetting and suicide: these are just some of the psychological effects that violence and war have on people.

Mental health experts say it is safe to assume that Nepal’s decade-long civil war has left many people suffering from psychological trauma.

“We don’t have official figures, because no one has done a formal study, but from the examples of conflict in other countries it is understood that approximately 10-40 percent of the affected population suffer from psychological trauma,” says RP Sapkota, psychologist and counsellor at the Centre for Victims of Torture, Nepal.

Since early 2007, CVICT has been working on a formal study of the psychological affects of war on the general population. Experts argue that although many of the mental illnesses resulting from war are easily treatable, there may be long-term consequences if action is not taken promptly.

“The doctors have to be able to recognise the symptoms first and they need to be trained in psychological ‘first aid’, which means they should listen, mobilise support, and make sure their needs are met and the victims protected from further harm,” says Kapil Dev Upadhyaya of the Patan Mental Hospital.

Sapkota says the best way to ensure those suffering from psychological trauma are well taken care of is for the government to work with other organizations who are working in the same field.

“It is imperative that we treat those who have undergone war trauma, and we have to start at the grassroots level,” he says. “If we train community health workers to raise awareness on war and mental health, to identify, treat and refer serious cases to a psychiatrist, we would be a step closer to healing their pain.”

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