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Sept. 11 Had Additional Effect On Psychiatric Patients

Terrorist incidents prompted post traumatic stress

MONDAY, May 20, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Even though they were hundreds of miles away, Rhode Island psychiatric patients experienced additional problems as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Researchers at Brown University in Providence surveyed 221 psychiatric patients and 87 medical patients at outpatient facilities at Rhode Island Hospital two to three weeks after Sept. 11. They found 33 percent of the psychiatric patients, compared to 13 percent of the medical patients, reported significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Those symptoms included thinking and/or dreaming about the attacks, avoiding reminders of them, and general irritability. Overall, 28 percent of the psychiatric and medical patients reported such symptoms, say the researchers, who presented their findings today at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Trauma Association in Philadelphia.

The researchers suggest the psychiatric patients were more likely to have PTSD symptoms because they lack coping skills and social support and have poor mental resiliency and an increased willingness to report psychiatric symptoms.

While doctors might want to talk with all their patients about the mental stress of the Sept. 11 attacks, they should be particularly sensitive to the needs of their psychiatric patients, the researchers say.

More information

This article from the National Institute of Mental Health explains why PTSD is treated as a "real illness."

SOURCE: News release, May 20, 2002, Brown University
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