It’s normal to be terrified by such events. But for many, the reactions are far worse. Says Amit Sen, psychiatrist at Delhi’s Sitaram Bhartia hospital, "Shock, panic, bafflement are the first outcomes. Then either numbness or agitation takes over, followed by post-traumatic stress symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, maybe blocking out the incident, insomnia, and finally depression."
The latter symptoms can last for years, and it’s easy to see why they can utterly destroy a person’s life, damaging self-esteem, creating behavioural problems and compromising effectiveness at work. Vijay Chandra, WHO’s Southeast Asia regional advisor for mental health, explains: "If untreated, people perform at a lower level, while their society tends to become less nurturing and productive."