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Ukrainians try to heal war trauma in a psychiatric hospital – Health and Lifestyle News – Report by AFR

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Yuriy Makeyev was left homeless and unemployed: a combination of circumstances that brought him to the brink of a nervous breakdown.

Now the 48-year-old, who fled his homeland in the war-torn east, believes he can return to normal life thanks to special psychological rehabilitation he’s undergoing at a Kiev clinic.

At least 5,000 civilians have been killed and as many injured since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine on February 24, according to the latest United Nations figures.

But many more survived devastating shelling across the country, leaving mental scars and psychological trauma.

Psychologists say spending weeks in bomb shelters, losing a job and being evicted from home can lead to stress and frustration beyond the ability to deal with on your own.

“After the war broke out, I was without a home and at the same time without a job,” said Makeyev, who worked as an editor at a Kyiv-based magazine.

His ordeal began in 2014 when he was forced to leave his hometown of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine after it was captured by Russian-backed separatists.

“I have already seen in Donetsk what is happening in Kyiv and the surrounding area. I didn’t want to experience it again, but I did,” he said.

One person was killed in a Russian missile attack on an apartment building in Kyiv last month.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Makeyev’s news agency was shut down and he lost his job.

The hostel he was living in also closed, and due to financial difficulties he could not afford to rent elsewhere.

“Several factors have become a constant source of stress and something urgently needed to be done about it,” he said

– ‘demand of society’ –

Makeyev told his story to AFP while sitting on a bench in the quiet courtyard of the psychological rehabilitation clinic called Sociotherapy.

“There’s a huge number of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD,” says Denys Starkov, a psychologist at the crisis center that opened last month.

“There is demand (for the clinic) from society. Psychologists are overloaded with such clients, so this idea came up,” Starkov said of the facility.

He offers a special three-week course that focuses primarily on group sessions for people suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, or painful memories.

Some, like Makeyev, come straight to the clinic, others call a hotline and speak to specialists who determine if they are suitable for therapy.

The treatment is free. The course consists of 15 themed sessions aimed at understanding one’s trauma experience and learning ways to deal with it.

The course is currently only available to civilians. Neither soldiers nor children are currently stationary.

“If it (PTSD) isn’t treated in a timely manner, it takes on more severe forms,” ​​said Starkov, seated in a spacious, bright group study room with rows of chairs and a flipchart with brightly colored markers in front of them.

The three-storey building on the outskirts of the city served as a hospital for alcohol and drug addicts before the Russian invasion.

Now a team of seven psychologists conducts sessions with patients several times a day, both in groups and individually, says Oleg Olishevsky, head of the therapy program.

He adds that ten patients are currently on the course, but the center plans to increase that number to 30 people.

“For the next 10 to 15 years, this will be the main area of ​​work because every inhabitant of our country is experiencing this traumatic situation,” he told AFP news agency.

Still, Olishevsky and his team are optimistic.

“We are already seeing results. People can feel safe here that they are being looked after,” he says.

Patient Makeyev seems willing to agree – even after only four days in the clinic.

“I was inspired here. I was given hope that I had already lost,” he said in a confident voice in light blue pants and a white T-shirt.

After completing the therapy, the first thing he wants to do is look for a job, says Makeyev.

“I expect to come out of here fully fledged and emotionally balanced, I’m not even afraid of that word ‘happy’,” Makeyev says with a slight smile on his face.

#Ukrainians #heal #war #trauma #psychiatric #hospital

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