PTSD reports increase among 9/11 responders

Police work on the site.

As the years since 9/11 go by, the number of NYPD officers reporting post-traumatic stress disorder have dramatically increased instead of going down, according to new study results discussed Thursday.

In the study of about 4,000 police officers interviewed four to six years after the attacks, 17 percent showed probable PTSD. This was double the number of eight percent reporting PTSD two or three years after 9/11, said Dr. Rosemarie Bowler, a psychology professor at San Francisco State University.
“The overall rate of probable PTSD in police worsened over time,” Bowler said while presenting the findings at a conference on 9/11 health in Lower Manhattan.

While researchers aren’t exactly sure what’s causing the increase, in 2001 and 2002 fewer responders sought help because they did not think they needed it, according to the city Department of Health’s Dr. Robert Brackbill. But as the years went by, Bowler found more officers reporting that memories of 9/11 continued to haunt them.

One new therapy now in use involves virtual reality, said Dr. JoAnn Difede, a psychology professor at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Patients wear goggles and headgear, which takes them through a virtual tour of the World Trade Centers and their collapse.

“It creates this sense of immersion, that you’re there again,” she said, which helps them summon and address memories.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.
 


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