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Katrina Victims 10 Times More Prone to Post-Traumatic Stress

Many require long-term mental health follow-up, researchers say

FRIDAY, May 18, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans residents suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at a rate that was 10 times that of the general population, a new study finds.

The study, to be presented Friday at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, in Chicago, found that PTSD was diagnosed in more than 38 percent of people arriving at an interim emergency department facility in New Orleans following Katrina. The rate in the general U.S. population is just 3.6 percent.

People who lost loved ones and remained in New Orleans during the hurricane were most likely to be affected by PTSD symptoms, the researchers said.

The scope and duration of this one mental health issue after Katrina shows that long-term, coordinated mental health response must be included in disaster relief, the researchers said.

"The incidence of PTSD in our population post-Katrina reported in this research study is noteworthy and worth following as recovery efforts move forward. The prevalence cited in this study is not alarming to those professionals caring for patients who have been traumatized by the storm and challenged by the recovery efforts," Dr. Peter DeBlieux, director of emergency services at Louisiana State University in New Orleans, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about PTSD.

SOURCE: Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, news release, May 16, 2007
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