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Studies highlight impact of Sept. 11, Iraq war on adolescents

ay when President Bush announced the end of major hostilities. Based on self-report, 34 of the adolescents had parents or other family members deployed, 64 had members waiting to be deployed and 51 had no relatives in the military.

"During the first week of the war, even though none of the adolescents had relatives directly involved in the initial attacks, some youth with relatives in the military were already worried and concerned for their loved ones," Dr. Treiber says. "They were already anxious and experiencing problems with recurrent disturbing thoughts and images related to war. Some reported having bad dreams about it. It's what you would imagine: there was a high level of anxiety in terms of what might happen to their loved ones." Military youth, particularly those with family members deployed, exhibited higher blood pressures, heart rates and greater anxiety and symptoms of post-traumatic stress than civilian youth, Dr. Treiber says, noting that their problems at that point did not mandate clinical intervention. In measurements taken two weeks after the end of major hostilities was announced, symptoms were strongest in white adolescents with deployed family members.

"Given the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and mounting casualties, further research is warranted to determine whether stress reduction interventions may be effective in reducing stress levels and associated indices of sympathetic nervous system arousal in youth of military personnel," he and colleagues wrote in the abstract.

"Behavioral stress reduction, such as meditation and coping skills training, might help decrease levels of anxiety so that they are not in a constant state of hypervigilance, which will help decrease their blood pressures, heart rates and stress hormones," Dr. Treiber says. "I think America needs to realize that, regardless of our own political views, we need to support our efforts in Iraq and elsewhere in terms of not only supporting
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
3-Mar-2004


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