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Acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression in disaster or rescue workers.

23 Aug
A study from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences concludes that exposed disaster workers are at increased risk of acute stress disorder, depression and PTSD..
A study from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Rd., Bethesda, MD 20814-4799..

Inspired by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, this study examined acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), early dissociative symptoms, depression, and health care utilization in disaster workers, to better plan for their healthcare.

Exposed disaster workers (N=207) and unexposed comparison subjects (N=421) were examined at 2, 7, and 13 months after an airplane crash. The exposed disaster workers had significantly higher rates of acute stress disorder, PTSD at 13 months, depression at 7 months, and depression at 13 months than comparison subjects.

Consistent with other studies, those who were younger and single were more likely to develop acute stress disorder. Exposed disaster workers with acute stress disorder were 3.93 times more likely to be depressed at 7 months. Those with high exposure and previous disaster experience or who had acute stress disorder were more likely to go on to develop PTSD. Similarly, those who were depressed at 7 months were 9.5 times more likely to have PTSD. Those who were depressed at 13 months were 7.96 times more likely to also meet PTSD criteria. More exposed disaster workers than comparison subjects obtained medical care for emotional problems at 2, 7, and 13 months.

Overall, 40.5% of exposed disaster workers versus 20.4% of comparison subjects had acute stress disorder, depression at 13 months, or PTSD. The study concludes that exposed disaster workers are at increased risk of acute stress disorder, depression, or PTSD and seek care for emotional problems at an increased rate.

Citation: Fullerton CS, Ursano RJ, Wang L.Acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression in disaster or rescue workers. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2004 Aug;161 (8): pp.1370-6. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award