Years after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, researchers found that 7 percent of New York City firefighters surveyed in 2009-2010 reported probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study published online September 7 in Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.
That figure was less than the 10 percent prevalence found in the first year after 9/11, but is significantly higher than the 1.8 percent reported among the general U.S. male population. Firefighters hired after September 11 recorded only a 1 percent PTSD prevalence.
Early arrival at the World Trade Center site, less exercise, greater alcohol intake, and concurrent symptoms of respiratory or gastroesophageal illness were among the conditions associated with PTSD symptoms, wrote Mayris Webber, Dr.Ph.H., of the New York City Fire Department’s Bureau of Health Services and colleagues. “[PTSD] may thus persist or may arise not solely because of the intensity of the event experienced, but also because of physical injuries or illnesses sustained during the event and changes in health behaviors after the event,” said Webber.
To learn more about the mental health consequences of the September 11 attacks, see Psychiatric News at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/17/1.1.full. In addition, comprehensive information about best practices in treating the psychiatric sequelae of disasters is provided in the new book Disaster Psychiatry: Readiness, Evaluation, and Treatment available from American Psychiatric Publishing at www.appi.org/SearchCenter/Pages/SearchDetail.aspx?ItemId=7217.