Nightmares, flashbacks, fatigue: Beirut faces mental health crisis after blast 

Reuters
Beirut Published: Aug 24, 2020, 03:58 PM(IST)

Life in Beirut after blast Photograph:( AFP )

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"The other day, I was trying to open a jar and the popping sound made me jump back and scream. I felt for a second I needed to run away."

The deadly Beirut explosion that killed 181 people, wounded thousands more and devastated swaths of the city, left many maimed, mostly because of flying shards of glass and debris.

The blast caught Lebanon at an extremely vulnerable point following months of severe economic crisis compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

Also read | Hard on the eyes: Beirut blast leaves many half-blinded

Now practitioners are warning of a national mental health emergency as people begin to show signs of trauma from the explosion, including nightmares, flashbacks, crying, anxiety, anger and exhaustion.

Also read: Lebanon Prime Minister Hassan Diab's government resigns over Beirut blasts

Psychologists say this is being exacerbated by the constant stream of images on Lebanese TV and social media showing the blast and its bloody aftermath.

"Every time we say it can't get worse in Lebanon, it somehow does," said Jad Daou, a volunteer with Lebanese mental health NGO Embrace, who mans the phones at its crisis clinic. "A lot of people are feeling hopeless about the entire situation here in Lebanon."

At least 400 people suffered ocular injuries, more than 50 required surgery, and at least 15 have been permanently blinded in one eye, according to data compiled by major hospitals in and around Beirut.

Lebanon has seen a spike in coronavirus-related cases and deaths in recent weeks, and they have hit a new record in the aftermath of the massive explosion that ripped through large parts of Beirut on August 4.

(With inputs from Reuters) 

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