Studies conducted after 9/11 suggest that those who experienced the WTC attacks and those who repeatedly witnessed the events on television and in newspapers are at greater risk of developing long-term psychological problems. Described below are some of the 52 related health conditions covered by the WTC Health Program.
Further research has shown that PTSD and lower respiratory symptoms each influence the occurrence of the other over time (Wyka, 2020). Several factors play a role in the relationship between PTSD and lower respiratory symptoms including the presence of specific lower respiratory symptoms, over-all health, and mal-adaptive behaviors that can exacerbate the co-occurrence of PTSD and LRS (Gargano, 2019).
In addition, PTSD is associated with earlier death and specifically death from suicide, unintentional accidents, and drug over-dose, as well as, cardiovascular disease (Geisinger, 2020). Also, PTSD or PTSD in combination with 9/11-related physical health problems can result in early retirement and substantial post-retirement income loss (Yu, 2019).
On a positive side, we also found that some enrollees experienced post-traumatic growth or positive psychological growth following trauma such as 9/11, which was augmented by high social integration, more social support, and higher self-efficacy (Pollari, 2021).
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are the most common health effect of the 9/11 attacks. Up to 20% of adults directly exposed to the disaster or injured in the attack had PTSD symptoms five to six years after the attack; this is four times the rate in the general population.
Ten years after the attacks, 15% of Registry enrollees reported depression and 10% reported both depression and PTSD.
Stress and exposure to the WTC attacks may increase the risk of developing substance use disorders or cause relapse among people who previously had a substance use problem.