Comorbidity of 9/11-related PTSD and depression in the World Trade Center Health Registry 10-11 years postdisaster.

Caramanica, Kimberly; Brackbill, Robert M.; Liao, Tim; Stellman, Steven D.

Many studies report elevated prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression among persons exposed to the September 11, 2001 (9/11) disaster compared to those unexposed; few have evaluated long-term PTSD with comorbid depression. We examined prevalence and risk factors for probable PTSD, probable depression, and both conditions 10-11 years post-9/11 among 29,486 World Trade Center Health Registry enrollees who completed surveys at Wave 1 (2003-2004), Wave 2 (2006-2007), and Wave 3 (2011-2012). Enrollees reporting physician diagnosed pre-9/11 PTSD or depression were excluded. PTSD was defined as scoring ≥ 44 on the PTSD Checklist and depression as scoring ≥ 10 on the 8-item Patient Health Questionnaire. We examined 4 groups: comorbid PTSD and depression, PTSD only, depression only, and neither. Among enrollees, 15.2% reported symptoms indicative of PTSD at Wave 3, 14.9% of depression, and 10.1% of both. Comorbid PTSD and depression was associated with high 9/11 exposures, low social integration, health-related unemployment, and experiencing ≥ 1 traumatic life event post-9/11. Comorbid persons experienced poorer outcomes on all PTSD-related impairment measures, life satisfaction, overall health, and unmet mental health care need compared to those with only a single condition. These findings highlight the importance of ongoing screening and treatment for both conditions, particularly among those at risk for mental health comorbidity.


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Journal of Traumatic Stress

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June 12, 2015