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Study Says NYC Stress Disorder Declining

Health: Depression rose after World Trade Center attacks, but New Yorkers are 'getting better.'

May 19, 2002|From Associated Press

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — New Yorkers took an emotional battering after the terrorist attacks, says a study that suggests more than 400,000 city residents have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder.

"There was a very large impact on the population of New York," said researcher Michael Bucuvalas, whose firm has extensive experience measuring stress from disasters. "A lot of that has persisted, but the population is getting better."

Researchers had released results taken in October and November, covering Manhattan below 110th Street. On Saturday, they announced the findings from the second wave of surveys, which included residents throughout the city during January and February.

The number of residents who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder since Sept. 11 related to the attacks was put at 7%, or 425,000. The estimate of people experiencing the disorder related to the attacks over the last month was 140,000.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms include nightmares, anxiety, irritability or outbursts of anger. The symptoms are usually present for at least two weeks.

Health officials say the existence of certain groups of these symptoms qualifies as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Researchers are conducting a third wave of interviews to include the city's suburbs, such as Long Island and northern New Jersey.

Almost half a million residents have experienced a serious episode of depression since the attacks, and about 212,000 of those cases were in the last month. Bucuvalas estimated about half of that was related to the attacks.

The study will also examine the effect of such a high number of psychological stress victims on the health system.

"Part of our analysis will focus on increased use of mental health facilities," Bucuvalas said. "All of a sudden, half a million people need treatment."

The study found that Latinos were very likely to have higher rates of the disorder, though Bucuvalas said it is unclear why. Also, people who had experienced other stressful situations were more likely to have the disorder.

For some, the disorder has persisted because they were used to seeing the twin towers each day, either from work or home.

The study is being done in conjunction with the New York Academy of Medicine. Funding for this wave of the research was supplied by the Sept. 11 Fund, the Commonwealth Fund and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The results were released at the annual meeting here of the American Assn. for Public Opinion Research. The survey is being done by the New York research firm Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas Inc.

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