Even prior to the atrocities of October 7th, there was a label attached to Israel that we are a country with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While traumatic experiences aren’t exactly new for us, this isn’t completely true.
Trauma in itself isn’t a condition, it is an event. In 75 years, the country has experienced multiple traumatic events, but this does not mean we as a nation have PTSD.
Sheba psychiatrist, Dr. Nitsa Nakash stated, “When a rocket siren catches you outside and you have to lie flat on the ground, even if it’s on the grass in Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv, and you have interceptions above you – that’s a traumatic event. But of course, compared to a soldier in Gaza, or a person who was in the massacred communities in the south or at the Nova music festival, or security personnel or ZAKA personnel, it’s a lower-intensity event,”
The Resilient Journey Beyond Trauma
When someone has PTSD, Trauma becomes deeply embedded within the individual, making it challenging for them to move forward as it manifests in persistent rumination, avoidance of triggering reminders, or uncontrolled appearances in various situations. However, this is not as commonplace as some may figure.
Dr. Nakash elaborates, “Research from around the world, and also here in Israel prior to October 7, shows that most people will go down a path of resilience. Most people have resilience and will move on and won’t suffer from psychopathologies. The events will leave their mark mentally, but it doesn’t have to reach places such as clinical depression or OCD.”
Sheba’s Response to Recent Conflicts
At Sheba, psychologists and psychiatrists have gone up and beyond to treat those affected by the October 7th attacks and the ongoing conflict. As it stands, all of Sheba’s existing trauma and rehabilitation clinics have been significantly expanded upon.
Dr. Nakash lamented on the preparedness of Sheba during these trying times, stating, “We’ve been dealing with disorders that follow trauma for many years,” Nakash says. “We have a huge clinic for treating wounded veterans; we have my clinic, which specializes in very specific treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy; and in the rehabilitation wards we have therapists who have been trained to treat people with severe injuries following traumatic events.”
As soldiers are admitted into Sheba’s rehab units, they are immediately met with a mental health specialist, who will assist them in processing everything they experienced while fighting in Gaza. At times they have to cover things like the loss of friends, the loss of physical abilities, as well as coming to terms with physical injuries.
The Power of Prompt Psychological Care
Prompt and effective treatment plays a pivotal role in determining the trajectory of an individual’s recovery from trauma. By addressing the psychological impacts swiftly and with precision, healthcare professionals significantly increase the chances of patients embarking on a path of resilience and healing. This approach not only mitigates the risk of long-term psychological effects but also fosters a stronger foundation for recovery, ensuring a more sustained return to well-being.