Home Views & Opinions Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in conflict zones: A case study of Kashmir Valley

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in conflict zones: A case study of Kashmir Valley

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an important topic of research in modern medical as well as in social science. With the evolution of human society, the problem has only grown complex in nature. Trauma can be defined, as a very difficult or unpleasant (violent) experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems usually for a long time, such an exposure to violent, disturbs a person’s mind and behavior in the long run. Thus it becomes a psychological disorder. It can affect people of any age, culture or gender.
Post-traumatic Stress disorder is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This fight or flight response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience arrange of reactions after trauma. Yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problem may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. People who have PTSD may feel stressed of frightened even when they are not in danger. The formal study and documentation of PTSD Started in the aftermath of Vietnam war in the decade of 1980’s. As per the estimates of national Vietnam veterans study (1998) the prevalence of PTSD was found of PTSD was found to be15.2% among the veterans. Furthermore, the study estimates that 30% of the veterans had experienced the disorder at some point since returning from Vietnam.
Witnessing the violent behavior, activities or conflict leaves a person in trauma. A person might not be physically hurt; however the psychological damage caused by such an act of violence becomes irreparable for long time. People affected by PTSD are both civilians as well as veterans. In research veterans coming back from war zone, it was found that soldiers are highly likely to suffer from PTSD over the course of their life span.
It makes the whole family of veterans vulnerable to mental and psychological stress. Over the period of time, the flashbacks of violent exposure turn it into a psychiatric disorder. The person goes through depression, anxiety, insomnia, suicide tendencies cognitive emotional disharmony, and other psychological illness. Several cases have been found in which the person has become used to violence (numb) due to over exposure and then starts to enjoy repetitive aggression over time. This also paves way for radicalization among people in war torn areas.
A cognitive modification takes place due to repetitive thought cycles by of intrusion and denial which exerts those stressful thoughts into a stable cognitive framework. Thus traumatic life events leave long lasting negative effects on the traumatized individuals because of false cognitive reworking which leads to post traumatic stress disorder.
Kashmir Valley, the region of north Western India has been witnessing violence for years in its history. Since the partition of the country, political stress has perpetuated the violence in the region to gain the complete control in the region; a kind of civil war has been persistent in the region. It is the civilians who have been experiencing the ongoing violence. The dispute over the territory of Kashmir has become one of the main reasons of deteriorated relationship between India and Pakistan.
The conflict has shaken and completely disturbed the lives of the people of Kashmir. The conflict in the region has left thousands of people dead, maimed, and mutilated. Many missing or confined, thousands of children orphaned, thousands of women widowed and damage to cultural ethos including mass migration. Due to regular exposure to violence, a large section of the population have developed some kind of mental disorder, be it depression, trauma related disorders subsistence abuse etc.
According to Kashmir mental health survey report 2015, nearly 1.8 million (45%) adults in the Kashmir Valley are experiencing symptoms of mental distress, with 41% exhibiting probable depression, 26% probable anxiety and 19% probable PTSD. Nearly eight lakh adults are found to be affected in Kashmir. The estimated prevalence of PTSD for districts range from 11% in Srinagar to 27% in Baramulla. According to Das Dupta Baramulla, Kupwara & Bandipora are three most violent prone districts of Kashmir because they include Line of Control (LOC), neighboring Pakistan Administered State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. These districts are densely forested and are hide outs of militants. This makes the area continuous war-torn region between militants and armed forces.
The people here witness violence on daily basis. It is important to note that these districts with regular brutal violence have more prevalence of PTSD among civilians. Therefore the exposure and experience of violence not only disturbs the mental health of the people, but also triggers the radicalization and violent behavior among Kashmiri youth segment of population. People being the victim of brutal violence or experiencing it on close family members like siblings or parents, causes psychological and neurological damage to the brain savery large section of Kashmiris population goes through this problem.
Most of the families face such violence in same or other way, thus traumatizing the whole family. Government too plays a crucial role perpetuating the violence due to the dispute over the territory of Kashmir and undermining its effects on the people. Every religion is subjugating non-violence as a tool of humanity to control any situation whether it may be physical form or any other form. Government has to cooperate with the people to make their aspirations possible, so that the post-traumatic stress disorder may get evacuated from the society which leads to green life of a country.