Teens Hit Hard by 9/11, Iraq

Studies examine effects of both events on American teens

WEDNESDAY, March 3, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- American teens suffered stress effects from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq war, new research says.

Two Medical College of Georgia studies focusing on teen reactions to trauma are being presented this week at the American Psychosomatic Society's annual meeting in Orlando.

One study found that three months after the Sept. 11 attacks, 10 percent of 400 black students at an inner-city southern U.S. high school reported clinically significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These symptoms included hypervigiliance and recurring, disturbing memories.

The second study examined the psychological and cardiovascular impact on 149 adolescents caused by the Iraq war. It found teens from military families were most affected. Evidence of the effects included elevated resting blood pressures and heart rates associated with their loved one's proximity to the war.

"One of the purposes of publishing a study like this is to alert pediatricians, school counselors, caregivers, parents and school administrators of potential stress rates related to reactions to terrorist attacks that might occur in the future. That concern did not end, but really just began with 9/11," physiologist Dr. Vernon A. Barnes, author of the 9/11 study, says in a prepared statement.

Child psychologist Dr. Frank A. Treiber, author of the Iraq war study, says in a prepared statement that his research had similar purposes.

"One of the concerns I have is that families with loved ones involved in the war on terrorism are undoubtedly experiencing emotional and physical strain. Are we adequately identifying and providing assistance to those who would benefit from help in coping with the strain before it becomes clinically manifest?" Treiber says.

More information

The American Psychiatric Association has more about post-traumatic stress disorder.

SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, news release, March 3, 2004
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