I remember 9/11 like yesterday. My phone rang as the sun was coming up and my daughter who had moved into the NYU dorms but 5 days ago told me that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by a plane. Within the hour we realized that our daughter - the same daighter who we had coached on safe sex, safety in the subways, date rape, importance of good grades, meningitis risk at college - had not been coached on terrorist plots.
After weeks and months passed, the true horror of the event had time to sink in. And now, years later, it is estimated that 70,000 people may have developed PTSD after the events of 9/11. There is an actual registry, The World Trade Center Health Registry, and people registered and agreed to be tracked for up to 20 years. Based on the answers to various questionnaires and the physical examinations of those exposed directly to the dust and other contaminants, somewhere between 35,000 and 70,000 individuals may indeed be suffering from this disorder.
The PTSD rate is especially high among injured, low income and Hispanic study volunteers. It's important to remember that in the early days after the attacks there was an unbelievably high level of dust and contaminants in the air and people were not wearing masks or the right type of masks. Let's not forget that people down at ground zero witnessed victims jumping from the buildings, and people critically injured in the streets.
This kind of stress - even with therapy and treatment - can be long lasting. Thankfully, many of us may never know - firsthand- this kind of trauma. My daughter was nine blocks from ground zero. She was lucky, she was safe and she sems to have been able to compartmentalize what occured and move on. In fact, she remained at school and has chosen to continue to live in New York to date. She has witnessed a horror and managed to cope and move on.
Published On: September 16, 2008