thai cave

How being trapped in a cave could affect the Thai boys psychologically

By the end of this day, the four remaining kids and their 25-year-old coach still stuck in the Tham Luang cave will hopefully be out in the sunshine again.

So far, eight of the Wild Boars football team — who got trapped in the cave on June 24 while exploring it — have been rescued. A team of over a hundred expert divers working in tandem will be going in today for the last time to bring back the remaining.

There is, however, one nagging question. How will this experience affect the kids?

The 12 boys, all aged between 11 and 16, lived the first nine days in the dreaded pits of the Tham Luang cave with no contact with the outside world, clinging to the hope of being somehow found. After they were discovered, they spent another six days (more for those later/yet to be rescued) in there.

Physically, the ones rescued have put through multiple tests to check for infections and other adverse effects the cave stay may have had on them. A senior health official has confirmed that the boys are in “high spirits” and have strong immune systems.

Psychological, things could be a little more complicated.

Speaking to, Dr Pallavi Aravind Joshi, a consultant psychiatrist at the Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield, said that some of the boys “may develop PTSD as the time passes”.

“As the experience is outside the ‘normal’ human experience, majority of them may experience acute stress reaction characterised by high level of anxiety, sleeping difficulties, irritability, flashbacks of the episode, and initial adjustment difficulties with society and community, ” said Dr Joshi.

“Some of them may develop PTSD as the time passes, the symptoms of PTSD are almost similar to acute stress reaction, only thing we call PTSD when symptoms persist beyond a month from trauma. Long term impact other than PTSD could be different forms of anxiety as insecurity may prevail in the mind,” she said.

However, we cannot generalise how each kid will respond to the trauma.

“This is also not applicable to everyone, a few may reunite with the situation after rescue with minimal difficulty depending on their psychodynamics,” said Dr Joshi. “Impact differs, deepens on psychological makeup of the individual kid, their genetics relevant to psychiatry history, etc.”

The doctor stresses that reunion with parents itself is often “a very big relief from the stress”, and that talking to a counselor is “absolutely recommended”.

“Parents should give reassurance to the kid about safety for a few days. Co-sleeping for a few days, hugging, holding hands, etc. should be encouraged, ” suggests Dr Joshi. “Helping them engage in normal routine is recommended. Watching out for symptoms, like if any one of them remains secluded or wakes up many times in the night with memories of past event or has frequent flash backs and is often anxious or sad.”

The good thing to keep in mind is, children are more resilient than adults. While an adult would be more aware of their surroundings, feelings and thoughts in a situation this, a child may miss out on such things.

“Children handle it [such situations] better, and the incidence of PTSD is way less in children as compared to adult,” said Dr Joshi.

All in all, we hope the story of 12 boys and their coach getting trapped in a cave goes down in history with a happy ending.




News credit : Indiatoday

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