No end in sight to war for overwhelmed Ukraine psychologists dealing with the mental health falloutToronto Star
By Katharine Lake Berz Special to the Star
Dec. 17, 2022
Beyond dealing with the physical horrors, a mixture of panic attacks, insomnia, flashbacks, anxiety and depression affect majority of patients doctors see suffering from PTSD
IVANO-FRANKIVSK, Ukraine — Susanna Anhelova’s heart aches as she looks out at the 70 somber souls waiting to start the support program for women she is leading in western Ukraine. Anhelova has worked for 25 years with victims of trauma but says this is the hardest work she has ever faced.
One of the women in the room, barely past her teens, stares despondently at her phone. Another bows her head as her child whines. All are looking to Anhelova to help them recover. All have survived unimaginable abuse and torture as Russian prisoners of war.
Anhelova prays the electricity will stay on long enough for her to offer words of comfort and tries not to think of her own children near the shelling at their home in Kyiv.
“I must help these women learn to live again, so we can win this war,” she says.
The war in Ukraine has brought pain and hardship to millions of civilians since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. The European Union estimates that 20,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed, with many more injured and millions left homeless. An estimated 15 million Ukrainians now need mental-health care, according to the Ukraine ministry of health.
“The devastation of the war is like the rings of a stone thrown in the water,” she says. “Larger and larger circles ripple forever.”
When Anhelova’s waves of memories threaten to overwhelm her, she reminds herself that her work is important.
“This is my front line, my struggle. This is what I can do for our victory.”
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