While a large section of the population of Kashmir has suffered from depression due to conflict in the region, the recent floods in the state have aggravated the problem further by triggering a spate of post-traumatic stress disorder cases.
40-year-old Abdul Hamid, a heart patient and suffering from acute depression, spent a day at a mental check-up camp set up by NGO ‘Aash – the hope of Kashmir’ in Budgam district.
Last month, during the raging floods, his wife had lost her life at Srinagar’s Lal Ded maternity hospital soon after giving birth to a child.
Today, living in a broken house, Mr Hamid is scared, delusional and worried about the safety of his child.
“I am not able to sleep now,” said Mr Hamid. “After my wife died, I am in great tension. She was in perfect health but died suddenly. I am always thinking about it.”
Mental health camps are being set up in the region for people showing symptoms of headache, loss of memory and the desire to be left alone.
Volunteers say their job will be done only when those devastated by the floods heal completely – in body and mind.
“Apart from conflict-related trauma, this has been an add-on to that trauma. There are people who were relieved from their anxiety previously, but now the floods have aggravated their situation,” said Abdul Wajid, a volunteer.
Doctors say that hospitals and medical camps in Srinagar have been receiving around 50 stress-related cases daily.
“Stress is presenting in varied ways,” said Dr Rafiq Pampori, Principal, Government Medical College Srinagar. “It depends on coping mechanism. Those who have good faith, they tolerate it well. They say, it had to happen and it happened.”
Help has also come in from NGOs like Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF) which has started counselling centres across the Valley for people suffering from post-flood stress disorder.