Anti-depressants, no sea for Salvadoran castaway

Mr Jose Salvador Alvarenga attending a press conference in Majuro on Feb 6, 2014. Mr Alvarenga, still in hospital after his 13-month Pacific odyssey, will need antidepressants and anxiety medication, doctors said. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Mr Jose Salvador Alvarenga attending a press conference in Majuro on Feb 6, 2014. Mr Alvarenga, still in hospital after his 13-month Pacific odyssey, will need antidepressants and anxiety medication, doctors said. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

SAN SALVADOR (AFP) - Salvadoran castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga, still in hospital after his 13-month Pacific odyssey, will need antidepressants and anxiety medication, doctors said on Monday, Feb 17, 2014.

Due to Mr Alvarenga's fear of the sea, which medics earlier linked with possible post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), his family also will be asked to keep him away from the water when he is eventually released from San Rafael hospital in Santa Tecla, near the capital.

"We are going to be recommending that the family avoid any contact between him and the ocean. Not just seeing it, but even the sound or smell could trigger flashbacks, bring up all the tragedy he has been through," his attending physician Yeerles Ramirez told reporters.

Doctors have not decided when he will be released, but Dr Ramirez said Mr Alvarenga would need outpatient psychiatric care for at least six months.

And his psychiatrist Angel Fredi Sermeno said he would be treated with antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication.

Tests have shown that Mr Alvarenga does not require surgery, Dr Ramirez said.

Physically "he is fairly fit," the doctor added.

Mr Alvarenga gave several interviews after he washed ashore in the Marshall Islands on Jan 30, telling reporters he had survived in a small fibreglass boat for more than a year after setting off from Mexico in late 2012.

The fisherman says he endured the 12,500km trip by eating raw fish and bird flesh and drinking turtle blood and his own urine.

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