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New Yorkers Still Suffer From Mental Distress Five Years After 9/11

The dust may have long ago settled, but mental distress due to the September 11th attacks is still very much a reality for many. And as we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11, things aren’t getting any easier for many New Yorkers. NY1 Health & Fitness reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.

EMT Dennis Heavey and his partner were some of the first responders at the Twin Towers September 11th. Heavey made it out but his partner did not. It’s been those moments that have been tough for him to get past even five years later.

“It’s hard to still realize what happened,” says Heavey. “There are times I find myself driving you know, driving in and out of work just having to pull over because the tears start flowing for no reason at all.”

Like so many other New Yorkers, Chuck Dorman was heading to work when he saw everything.

“I used to be a very happy-go-lucky, optimistic person, and I think 9/11 replaced a lot of that optimism with anger and other things I didn’t like about myself,” he says.

There’s no doubt the events have taken a heavy emotional toll on most New Yorkers. After 9/11, calls to the city’s mental health hotline, 1-800-LIFENET run by The Mental Health Association of New York City doubled. And they still haven’t dropped. For many, with the 5th anniversary, media coverage and movies dramatizing the events, all the emotions are coming back.

“I think there’s probably no event that has such media coverage,” says Dr. Jillian Murphy of the MHA of NYC. Even just the date itself, because the event is named after the date itself, it just triggers so much of a reaction in individuals.

“For some the anxiety is lessening, but for others it’s just emerging,” says Dr. Janet Bachant of the New York Disaster Counseling Coalition. “There is great variability in how a trauma like this affects people.”

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For both Heavey and Dorman therapy’s helped. Heavey started getting counseling in the weeks following 9/11. Dorman’s reaction was a bit harder to identify. He started getting help just about a year ago.

“What we’ve learned from other traumatic events such as Oklahoma City is that most people didn’t even seek mental health treatment or any type of counseling until several years after the event,” says Nancy Arnow, a social worker at Safe Horizon. “So I think it’s very natural for people now all of the sudden, even now five years later to begin to realize, ‘you know what, I’m really having a hard time coping.'”

While many New Yorkers are likely to have different reactions around this anniversary, the question often is “how do you know when you really need to talk to someone?” Most of the mental health experts say it’s when feelings of depression, anger, sadness, or anxiety last longer than a week or two that you may want to seek the help.

There are many services out there where people can still get help. For adult and child trauma tips visit www.safehorizon.org. For more information visit http://www.mhaofnyc.org/ or www.nydcc.org.

SOURCE:- © 2006 NY1 News.

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