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Psychic Wounds Last for Those Touched by 9/11
Date:9/8/2011

ey Jay, a psychologist in private practice in Washington, D.C., who has counseled 9/11 survivors from the Pentagon. "Sometimes anniversary reactions come on quickly, but also dissipate relatively quickly. But the intensity surprises people and worries them," he explained.

"It may take the person down very deeply to feeling just what it was like," Jay added, "but it tends not to last very long."

Deep-seated wounds

That's not to say, however, that more subtle mental health effects of the terrorist attacks haven't long taken hold in many of those most closely affected. Just this past month, Jay helped a longtime Pentagon employee realize that a host of insidious symptoms for which she had repeatedly sought medical attention were actually due to her psychological trauma a decade ago.

"She thought it was menopause, a virus -- she had many physical symptoms," Jay said, noting that the woman has now retired from the Pentagon. "She was extraordinarily grateful and in tears to understand that this goes back to 9/11. People continue to suffer and it's not always clear what's going on."

Ten years later, however, it's clear that emotional trauma runs rampant in many of those who witnessed the horrors of the day firsthand. A January 2010 study by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that nearly 96 percent of World Trade Center evacuees reported at least one current post-traumatic stress symptom and 15 percent screened positive for the full-blown illness, PTSD, within two to three years of the disaster.

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that occurs after experiencing or witnessing events that threaten death or serious injury and involving intense feelings of fear, helplessness or horror. It is the third most common anxiety disorder in the United States.

"Cancer is the quintessential disease from 9/11," said Feal, whose non-profit organization, the FealGood Foundation, spreads awareness about t
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