PSTD, major depressive symptoms, and substance abuse following September 11, 2001, in a midwestern university population

Int J Emerg Ment Health. 2003 Winter;5(1):15-28.


This research investigated the prevalence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and substance abuse in a midwestern university population following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington, DC. Three-hundred five subjects volunteered to complete a questionnaire which measured nine areas of psychosocial functioning which included demographics, personality, PTSD, MDD, prior traumatic experiences, alcohol and drug use, psychiatric history and treatment, and current attitudes towards government, religion, the economy, and how children were affected by the events. The participants lived in a large urban city over which United Flight 93 circled before crashing in Pennsylvania due to terrorist attacks. The subjects were forced to evacuate their university and city due to attacks on New York and errant United Flight 93. The study also replicated the first two national studies on PTSD prevalence (Schuster, et al., 2002; Galea, et al., 2002). The results found a prevalence rate of 5.9% for probable PTSD, matching identically previous national surveys. There were higher levels of PTSD and MDD for females, those with less education and who were single or unmarried, and those who had a prior history of mental health problems or psychological trauma. PTSD and MDD were associated with higher levels of alcohol and drug use since September 11. Relations to active duty military personnel appear to moderate the perception of threat, suggesting the importance of affiliative kinship patterns to coping with stress. Finally, the concept of geographic and psychological proximity to the 'zone of danger' is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aircraft
  • Data Collection
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television
  • Terrorism / psychology*
  • Universities