Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Flashing back to 9/11
Today, on this sixth anniversary of 9/11, the country will mourn together. For most of the country, it will be a reminder, an anniversary, but for thousands of others it could be psychologically devastating. It could cause something known as PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. The symptoms can be awful and the research shows us the reminders don't help.
We know on average 4 percent of the general American public suffers from PTSD, but one in eight 9/11 rescue and recovery workers had PTSD, even years after the attack, according to the World Trade Center Health Registry. We know firefighters developed PTSD at 2 times the rate of police officers, but both groups continue to suffer today. We also know that PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is marked by sudden and intense fear, along with feelings of desperation, hopelessness and outright horror. We know it can be difficult to treat.
During the last six years, there has been a growing body of research on PTSD, looking at the survivors of 9/11 and veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, researchers are looking at propranolol, a blood pressure medication, as a possible treatment for PTSD. The idea is that this medication will block the adrenaline surge associated with a traumatic event. If you can block that release of adrenaline, the terrible memories may not be seared into the brain, and that might reduce the risk of future PTSD. There are some emergency rooms that now give the medication immediately after a traumatic event. There also is video game technology used for returning veterans. I tried it out myself and understood the premise that by exposing someone to previously traumatic events in a controlled setting with psychologists standing by, you could learn what is specifically traumatic, and deal with it. (Watch Video)
The triggers for PTSD aren't necessarily the images you will watch on television. They could be a sound, like bells ringing, or a certain smell. The best advice is to try and recognize if you are suffering and get help. Below is a list of resources that can provide some assistance. Take care of yourself, especially on this day.
If you have ever suffered from PTSD, or know someone who did, how did you deal with it? What worked best for you and what didn't work?
9/11 NYC health website
National Center for PTSD
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
PREVIOUS POSTS• Are you an early adopter?
• Bringing back "Blow"
• The truth about 'no cell zones'
• Is my doctor listening?
• Asthma attack like 'breathing through a straw'
• Are you suffering from brain mold?
• Rebuilding a storm-ravaged healthcare system
• Another benefit of statins? Not so fast...
• Self-censoring linked to higher death risk
• Turning up the heat on sunscreen