Why am I having sleep problems after an earthquake?
Q: I am a patient of panic disorder (phobia). My CT scan, MRI, EEG and other pathological reports are absolutely normal. I was under homeopathic treatment for the past two years. Prior to that I was under allopathic treatment for 9 months. My condition was diagnosed as basilar migraine but there was no improvement. I was all right but I had my old symptoms of jerk/vibrations during sleep, feeling of falling down at night after office hours and losing balance during office hours. Now I am under psychiatric treatment where I am advised paxidep 12.5 daily at night and clonezapam tablet sos whenever symptoms of falling and losing balance are experienced. Recently, I was on an official tour, while sleeping I was under tremendous fear that someone was present in the room and I could not sleep. Symptoms of losing balance started again in the evening. I met my psychiatrist, who advised continuing the treatment. She told me that this is not due to the medicine as paxidep responds after 3 months only, which was quite surprising. She advised me not to do yoga. I am confused whether I should follow the advice of a neurophysician or the psychiatrist as the neurophysician also advised the same medicine. The expert told me that these are not the symptoms of a sleep disorder, as I am in the early stage. It was diagnosed through sleep study but CPAP is not recommended, only sleeping pattern has to be changed. I am facing these problem after the earthquake in Gujarat in 2001. From that night symptoms are coming and going and new symptoms appear.
A:Traumatic events such as natural disasters like earthquake, floods etc. can give rise to a characteristic pattern of psychological symptoms. These symptoms range from intense feelings of fear, anger, sadness to hyper vigilance, exaggerated startled response, irritability, difficulty in concentration and sleep problems. The psychological impact of the trauma is to strong that these symptoms continue much after the traumatic event is over. These then interfere with the normal functioning of the individual as the possible threat to life and feelings of helplessness experienced during such events trigger feelings of fear and negative appraisals regarding self, world and future. From what you report it seems that you have not been able to recover from the horrific experience which you had undergone during earthquake. This horrific traumatizing incident has triggered symptoms of disturb sleep and of losing balance in you. My advise to you would be to continue the medication as prescribed by your psychiatrist. Psychotherapy is advisable in your case as it will help you in dealing with these symptoms and their debilitating effects. At your own level you can practice relaxation exercises like pranayam etc.