Wednesday, June 29

Anxiety, the first symptom among those affected by the La Palma volcano


Any traumatic event has consequences on the mental health of those who suffer it, but in the volcanic eruption of La Palma, after three months of emergency and several previous weeks of waiting and uncertainty, the condition extends to a large part of the island’s population. Y the anxiety is one of the first symptoms detected at the beginning of the study on the psychic impact of the La Palma volcano (Ipsi-volcanarias), promoted by the Spanish Association of Private Psychiatry.

The Research team of the Psychiatry Area of ​​the University of Oviedo, which participates in this study, has enabled a survey aimed at the inhabitants of all the Islands that includes questions on demographic aspects, the degree of involvement of the rash on a personal and family level, clinical aspects of mental health and questions about the level of anxiety, sadness and stress that has been experienced in recent days.

The research has the collaboration of the Psychiatry service of the General Hospital of La Palma, the Cabildo of La Palma, the Health Research Institute of the Principality of Asturias (ISPA) and the Center for Biomedical Research in Mental Health Network (Cibersam). It also has funding from the Carlos III Health Institute, which includes the most active teams in psychiatric research in Spain.

The initiative arose from the recent celebration in Bilbao of the congress of the Spanish Association of Private Psychiatry, just three weeks after the beginning of the eruption, and which was attended by the doctor from La Palma, Félix González. It was he himself who proposed the idea of ​​investigating the relationship and consequences of this natural catastrophe with the mental health of the island population. After accepting his proposal, the preparation of this study began, which in a first wave of surveys already detected that anxiety is very present among the participants. This was confirmed by the president of the Spanish Association of Private Psychiatry, Laura Ferrando, who pointed out that “a priori we think that there may be emotional alterations in the population, especially in the one that has been most affected.” He also indicated that the study is aimed at assessing how many people may be affected and also the severity of that condition.

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Among the first conclusions he added that “there is an answer with symptoms of anxiety and symptoms of decay that it would be normal and that it would not enter any pathology at all “, since it is justified by the situation that occurs,” when the human being reacts to a loss in a certain way. “To which he adds that” that is even healthy “In addition, he emphasizes that the study will allow these symptoms to be monitored to see” if they go further. ”

Ferrando stated in the presentation of the first data of the study that they do not expect there to be major pathologiesBut he indicated that they will continue to control each case to “see that evolution and to be able to implement the aid that is necessary at that level.” One of the scientists in charge of coordinating the project, a specialist in psychiatry at the General University Hospital of Asturias and professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oviedo, Julio Borges, stressed that it is an initiative that will be developed “throughout the years”. That is why he wanted to make it clear that in these first months it has been possible to make “a first window” with a wave of investigation of ten days, which will be repeated every two months.

After this first evaluation, it will be repeated between December 26 and January 8, with a questionnaire that will be sent through the networks and other directories. That is “the best way to know how things are changing,” said Borges. It is a “snowball” procedure, defined the psychiatrist, with whom he “intends to see the psychological impact of such a traumatic event that it generates the consequences of the volcano, which are not only physical or patrimonial damage.” Borges refers to moral damage, “which is what we want to see how it evolves and how we can attack it.”

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“These effects”, he laments, “are very present, especially in the Aridane Valley. The numbers have clearly told me where the core of the problem is,” which is also the place “where the presence of these psychological symptoms is much higher. to the rest of the municipalities “. That is why he is committed to continuing with this study that will allow to provide more aid “of one type or another”, since “Some will require more care, others will require more prevention and in others they will require more health care“.

The data that emanates from the succession of studies will be made available to the Island Council of La Palma so that “they can use them when they consider appropriate and if they need our contest to clarify some things, we will very gladly come to the island”, added the coordinator of the project.

The Affection to the citizenship of the Island of the next Christmas dates. On that, Dr. Borges indicated that “in a culture like ours, these are days that have special meaning.” The promoter of the project, Feliz González, also added that they are working “side by side with all the psychologists and psychiatrists on the Island”, to ensure that the study helps to identify which are the sensitive points from the psychic point of view that are affecting La Palma and also to weigh the resources. That is why he emphasizes that it will allow us to know “what we are going to need, where we are going to need the most and how to distribute it.”

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The psychiatrist highlights some data obtained from the first wave of surveys, in which he comments that it is clear “the history we have here with the volcanoes and the resistance of the palm tree“He points out that his surprise is that” any gray day that you go through Los Llanos de Aridane, on a day with an ash cloud, and people are having a drink in the street. ”

It also refers to the fact that “probably the people who are suffering are not on the street, they are in other places” but, even so, residents “keep the energy on”, indicating that “seeing that on the street seems important to me.” Finally, González also highlighted that the studies that are being carried out will allow us to be “aware of the most vulnerable, the weakest, the most sensitive, the saddest and the most anxious.”

From the Island Council, its Minister of Security and Citizen Participation, Nieves Rosa Arroyo, wanted to thank this contribution made by doctors specialized in mental health. Furthermore, he trusts that the study “will not only serve psychiatrists, but will also serve primary care, as a gateway to the public health system.” These results could be a very useful tool to help citizens “who are currently suffering a lot,” lamented the island councilor of the Cabildo palmero.


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