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Some vets better after 9/11

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2004 - Summer

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After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, veterans with pre-existing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) showed fewer symptoms—including nightmares, reactions to loud noises and numbness of feelings—than veterans admitted to clinics and hospitals in the previous six months and in previous years, according to a Yale study.

“Anecdotal reports from VA clinics suggest that some veterans, far from being overwhelmed by the horrific destruction, experienced feelings of familiarity, mastery and competence as survivors who had been exposed to horror in the past, but who had experience in coping with the resultant painful memories,” said Robert A. Rosenheck, M.D., HS ’77, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology and public health. His study was published last year in Psychiatric Services.

Although they were far from cured, these patients “seem to have benefited from the increased sense of community, patriotism and national pride across the country,” Rosenheck said.