Study Finds Comorbidity of PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety in NYPD 9/11 Responders

Press Release

Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm that has spent many years fighting to ensure that the first responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks are never forgotten, is commenting on the findings of a new study involving the health of 9/11 responders. The American Journal of Industrial Medicine has published a recent study examining rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety in police officers who responded to the attacks. The authors found that, “Nearly half of police with probable PTSD had comorbid depression and anxiety.” A comorbid disorder involves one medical condition existing simultaneously with—either dependently or independently of another medical condition. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27094566)

The authors point out that many police responders developed PTSD in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that these individuals may be more susceptible to depression and/or anxiety. Using the WTC Health Registry, the researchers analyzed data from 1,884 police enrollees. These individuals were placed into four groups based on whether they exhibited either individual or comorbid symptoms of PTSD, depression, or anxiety. The results of the study found that, out of the 1884 study subjects, 243 (12.9 percent) were classified as having probable PTSD. Within this group, 24.7 percent were classified as having depression, 5.8 percent with anxiety, 47.7 percent with comorbid (combined) depression and anxiety, and 21.8 percent with PTSD without depression or anxiety. The study found comorbidity (combined disorders) to be more common among individuals with the following factors: being Hispanic, having a decreased income, suffering from a physical injury the day of the attacks, suffering from a trauma and/or stressful events since the 9/11 attacks, and being unemployed or retired.

Parker Waichman comments that many 9/11 responders and survivors continue to suffer from serious health issues, both mental and physical, due to the attacks. “These individuals selflessly put themselves in harm’s way at a time when their country needed them most,” said Matthew J. McCauley, Senior Litigation Counsel at the firm. “This study, along with many others, shows that responders are still paying the price with their health.”

In November, the journal Psychological Medicine published a study that revealed that World Trade Center (WTC) exposure was linked to long-term PTSD. Researchers looked at PTSD 11-13 years after the attacks by administering tests to over 3,200 responders monitored at the Stony Brook University World Trade Center Health Program. A total of 9.7 percent were diagnosed with current WTC-PTSD; 7.9 percent had remitted, and 5.9 percent were deemed partial. Avoidance and hyper-arousal were the most common symptoms among those with active PTSD, while flashbacks were the least common. PTSD was strongly associated with WTC exposures, especially to death and human remains. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=DSM-IV+post-traumatic+stress+disorder+among+World+Trade+Center+responders+11-13+years+after+the+disaster+of+11+September+2001)

Responders and survivors may receive medical care and compensation through the WTC Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). These programs are provided through the Zadroga Act, which was first passed in 2010. As the deadline for Zadroga approached in 2015, advocates, including Parker Waichman, fought hard for permanent reauthorization. The Zadroga Act was reauthorized on December 18, 2015; the law funds the WTC Health Program for another 75 years and extends the VCF for another five years.

The firm vows to continue its efforts to safeguard these 9/11 responders and survivors and ensure that all of the deserved Zadroga Act compensation is received. To determine eligibility for compensation under the Act, or for assistance with a claim, please visit Parker Waichman’s website or call 1-800-LAW-INFO (1-800-529-4636).