aftermath of the events of September 11th, researchers funded in part by
the National Institute on Drug Abuse assessed post traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) and depression among Manhattan residents five to eight
weeks after the attacks.
The team, led by Drs. David Vlahov and Sandro Galea of the New York
Academy of Medicine, found that 7.5 percent of the study's 1,008
participants reported symptoms of PTSD and 9.7 percent reported symptoms
of depression. More than three percent of participants reported symptoms
of both PTSD and depression. The New York findings are two to three
times higher than the PTSD and depression rates reported by participants
in a national mental health study conducted in the early 1990s.
The findings appear in the March 28th issue of the New England
Journal of Medicine.
"We know from previous research that PTSD and depression may
develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as the
September 11th attacks," said NIDA Acting Director Dr. Glen Hanson.
"And we also know that PTSD and depression are strong risk factors
for substance abuse and addiction. Therefore, it's important for us to
use this research to develop effective treatment strategies that will
help individuals cope with traumatic events."
In this study, the researchers randomly selected 1,008 adults who
lived in Manhattan at the time of the study. Participants were
interviewed by telephone and asked questions about their exposure to
September 11th events (for example, whether they witnessed the attacks
and suffered personal losses) and whether they experienced psychological
problems after the attacks. The participants also were asked about their
level of emotional support during the six months prior to the attacks
and the number of stressful events they experienced during the year
before the attacks.
"The high prevalence of PTSD and depression among residents of
Manhattan is not surprising," said Dr. Vlahov. "Previous
research suggests that the symptoms of PTSD usually decrease
substantially within a few months after a trauma, however, the ongoing
threat of terrorist attacks and the constant reminders of the events may
affect both the severity and duration of PTSD and depression among
residents of New York. More research is needed to determine the
long-term impact of the attacks on New York residents."
This study was funded by the NIDA, the United Way of New York City,
and The New York Community Trust. NIDA has funded several studies
measuring the impact of stress and depression on substance abuse. For
more information, check NIDA's web site: www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Stress.html
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National
Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA
supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health
aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large
variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research
information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets
on the health effects of drugs of abuse and other topics can be ordered
free of charge in English and Spanish by calling NIDA
Infofax at 1-888-NIH-NIDA (644-6432) or 1-888-TTY-NIDA (889-6432)
for the deaf. These fact sheets and further information on NIDA research
and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at http://www.drugabuse.gov.