Nearly 21 percent of the individuals screened in the study also say the attacks impaired their daily functioning, according to the report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"A substantial number of survey respondents reported emotional distress" after the attacks, epidemiologist Nikki Jordan, M.P.H., of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine and colleagues conclude.
Although the reported rates of distress are high, the researchers say, they are "comparable to rates seen in other populations after terrorist attacks."
Jordan and colleagues offered a comprehensive survey addressing possible exposures and health outcomes following the attack to all Pentagon personnel between October 2001 and January 2002.
4,739 individuals, or a quarter of Pentagon personnel contacted, participated in the survey. Most participants were male with slightly more than half being civilians.
Most of the participants found to be at high risk for mental problems reported symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety, panic attacks or depression. About 8 percent were at high risk for post-traumatic stress disorders and less than 3 percent were at risk for alcohol abuse. More than half of the personnel who screened positive for the mental health high-risk groups were at risk for two or more of these disorders.
Seventy-nine percent of the respondents said they were in or near the Pentagon at the time of the attack or the subsequent rescue effort. About a third of those reported being near Pentagon areas that were damaged in the attack. 3.5 percent of respondents said they were injured as a result of the attack.<
Contact: Ann Ham
Center for the Advancement of Health