1 in 10 New Yorkers Has PTSD
Trauma of Sept. 11 Lingers in Wide NYC Area
"The Columbia School of Public Health has done a study for the New York City Board of Education," Schlenger says. "They find that 10% of children in grades 4-12 have PTSD which appears related to the Sept. 11 attacks. That translates to 75,000 kids."
PTSD expert Carol S. North, MD, studied long-term trauma in the wake of the Oklahoma City Bombings. Co-author of an editorial appearing alongside the Schlenger team's study, North is professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis and director of the consultation psychiatry service at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
"The New York attack is different from the Oklahoma City Bombing -- the scope and magnitude is greater, the loss of life is very much greater, and the meaning is different," North tells WebMD. "People feel terrorism has struck at the nerve center of who we are as a nation. That is a deep wound. It has a lot of meaning."
Randall Marshall, MD, is director of trauma studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University. He is deeply involved in the city's relief efforts and heads the effort to train New York-area mental health professionals in the treatment of PTSD.
"We're seeing a lot of PTSD, but also a lot of relapse of anxiety disorders and relapse of depression," Marshall tells WebMD.
Charles B. Strozier, PhD, is director of the Center on Terrorism and Public Safety at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He's also a practicing psychotherapist who has been helping trauma victims of the World Trade Center attacks.
"I've been interviewing survivors since the second week after the attack," Strozier tells WebMD. "With every threat they climb under their bed. I know a woman who was an executive at [a World Trade Center investment firm] -- and every time she turns on the TV and hears a terrorism warning she gets so scared she shatters. There are a lot of people like that, suffering a great deal."
Marshall says that the best treatment for PTSD is a specific form of psychotherapy in which patients -- in a totally safe environment -- relive their trauma with the support of a therapist. This has been hard to do in the New York area, where alarms and building evacuations continued for months after the attack.