The psychological consequences of a terror attack may be particularly great for children who are exposed to the traumatic event, according to background information in the article. Previous studies have shown that children exposed to mass trauma have elevated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Christina W. Hoven, Dr.P.H., of the Columbia University Medical Center-New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, and colleagues interviewed a large representative sample of New York City public school children enrolled in fourth through 12th grade, six months following the World Trade Center (WTC) attack, determining their level of exposure to the event as well as assessing them for eight probable mental disorders. Level of exposure was divided into the following categories: attendance at a ground zero school; severe exposure, defined as having two or more direct or one or more family exposures; moderate exposure, one direct and no family exposure; mild exposure, no direct or family exposure; and media exposure, having spent "a lot of time" watching television coverage. Direct exposure consisted of witnessing the attack, being hurt in the attack, in or near the cloud of dust and smoke, evacuated to safety or being extremely worried about a loved one. Family exposure was having one or more family member killed or injured in the attack or witnessing the attack but escaping unharmed.
One or more of six probable anxiety or depressive disorders were identified in 28.6 percent of the 8,236 children assessed, the researchers found. The most prevalent were probable agoraphobia (14.8 percent, fear of p
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