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The American Psyche, Post-9/11

How 9/11 Changed Us

Elusive "Quick Fixes" continued...

Carol North, MD, professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, concurs. "Feelings of upset tend to lessen over time," she says. But that isn't always the case. In the year following 9/11, there has been a steady stream of incidents -- from the anthrax-tainted letters to the "shoe bomber" to the warnings from government officials to remain vigilant -- that have many people in what North calls "a state of constant unrest."

When healing does occur, many psychologists acknowledge that it takes time and can't be rushed. "If you had a broken leg and I pushed you to run a marathon in two weeks, everyone would think I was mad," says Danieli. "But somehow, after such a massive trauma as Sept. 11, rapid healing is expected, even though it is unwise and detrimental."

People who still feel traumatized by the events of Sept. 11 should seek professional help, according to most experts. A number of treatments are being used for PTSD, including psychotherapy and medications (such as antidepressant drugs). But, cautions Schlenger, "for long-term cases, treatment focuses more on the management of symptoms rather than 'we're going to get over this altogether.'"

Reviewed on September 05, 2002

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