In Rwanda, every April during the Commemoration Week for all who perished the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, many cases of people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder are reported.
Due to the traumatic events that survivours went through and witnessed, post traumatic stress disorder is unavoidable.
Benetha Uwase is a 24-year old genocide survivor who watched six men killing her parents during the 1994 genocide. Uwase said that every year during the commemoration period, she experiences psychological disorders.
She has been admitted to Rwamagana District Hospital, six times over the years.
“I normally feel stressed up and lonely, and I don’t know how I end up in the hospital,” Uwase said.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder resulting from a traumatic event. PTSD causes a person to re-live their frightening and dangerous past experiences over and over again, hence causing extreme anxiety and depression.
People living with PTSD find it hard to face their daily life due to resulting mental challenges.
It should be pointed out that the symptoms of PTSD are frightening to the victim and to those who have witnessed a traumatic event.
Regardless of the pattern of the symptoms, there are identifiable signs that a person is experiencing PTSD. These signs vary from person to person.
A primary and frightening PTSD symptom is flashbacks. Flashback can be ignited by a loud and unexpected sound, such as a slammed door, a loud bang and crash. This acts as a psychological catapult to the victim, who re-experiences the original trauma in vivid detail.
This naturally causes the sufferer immense distress. If a person appears to be having a flashback, he needs immediate professional help.
It is important to understand and help individuals with this problem. One way is talking to a therapist who can help patients to get through the problems associated with PTSD.
Therapists teach coping methods and give suggestions on how to deal with problematic situations. They also provide an outlet for emotions and tears without judgment, and give an honest, unbiased opinion on issues.
Anti-depressants are also effective in treating depression associated with PTSD. A wide range of medication is available for depression treatment. These include; Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil, anxiety medications such as Xanax provide immediate relief, while Klonopin are maintenance medications that keep daily anxiety at bay.
PTSD causes feelings of isolation because no one can truly empathize with PTSD unless they have been through the same experience. Therefore, joining a group of people who have PTSD helps to alleviate feelings of loneliness.
Learning from others with similar problems about their coping techniques can also help with day to day living. It also provides a place to meet new friends.
Sometimes friends and family may not completely understand PTSD, but they can provide emotional support and a shoulder to cry on.
Never underestimate the importance of simply talking to someone about fears, even if they have no advice to give. Hearing that someone cares is sometimes enough to get through dark times.
Talk to friends, family, therapists and doctors to come up with emergency plans. Depression can lead to suicide, and friends and family need to have a plan of action if depression gets to that stage for protection.
Rwandans experiencing, PTSD due to the events of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, should be given full access to available therapists and their family members should understand the difficulty they are going through and help them to make their burden lighter to carry.