Psychologists help to lower anxiety levels

A psychosocial care team of CR University traveled to Guanacaste to help reduce anxiety levels among the population affected by the earthquake last Wednesday.

Cases of high anxiety caused by uncertanty about another possible earthquake can generate up physical effects on the inhabitans. Such is the case of insomnia, inttermittent sleep, headache and stomachache.

This was explained by the psychologist Marco Carranzaof the University of Costa Rica (UCR), adding that this anxiety may also affect people with catastrophic thoughts besides affect their feelings, their behaviors and their relationships with others.

Carranza is part of the Brigade Psychosocial Care College Emergency and Disaster, an extension program of the UCR created in 1989, during Hurricane Juana to bring psychological help after the first impact of an event.

Yesterday a team of professionals and advanced students of psychology traveled to Guanacaste to assist in this task.

According to Carranza, when there is no human losses (as in this case) it’s qualify the impact of a natural event, but the destruction of homes or the suspension of basic services has an emotional effect.

“By losing their homes, people have much fear that the event will raise again, especially since there is much misinformation about geological processes,” said Carranza.

“Uncertainty creates a lot of anxiety. If we do not know what will happen, is terribly distressing (…) He said if this was the largest earthquake they were expecting or if it will be another.

What we seek is to bring information to communities to help lower levels of anxiety, “said the professional.

To do this, the team is accompanied by an expert from the National Seismological Network, who provide scientific information.

One of the first actions of the group was to enable the Association of Psychologists of Guanacaste. This is to offer care tools that can be used in public health centers.

To reduce anxiety, Carranza explained as an examplecan be practiced “active listening”. That is, talk to the victims so they can vent their feelings.

After the avalanche, which forced the evacuation of 160 families in 2003 JUCO Street, Orosi (Paradise), a thesis from the School of Psychology at UCR found that girls and boys of the community suffered psychological effects such as fear, nervousness, anxiety , state of hyperarousal and anxiety.

Research of Catalina Ramirez Vega and Silvia Camacho Calvo designed, then a psychosocial intervention based on community organization that would help inform the risk to people and how to reduce it.