Associated Conditions

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

People who continue to experience stress for a long time after their exposure to the events of 9/11 or have stress that gets worse with time may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is an intense physical and emotional response to the thoughts and reminders of the traumatic event. This response lasts for weeks, months or even years after the exposure. The most common symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Re-living the events in flashbacks and nightmares along with feelings of guilt, extreme fear of harm, and numbing of emotions
  • Shaking, chills, headaches and fast heartbeat
  • Avoiding places and activities that remind the person of the events of 9/11
  • Increased reactions such as feeling overly alert or easily startled or feeling detached from others
  • Experiencing difficulty sleeping, irritability and angry outbursts

Other symptoms may include, panic attacks (sudden instances of intense fear and discomfort and fast heart beat, sweating, trembling, feelings of choking or shortness of breath), depression, drug and alcohol misuse, feeling isolated and thoughts of suicide.


People who directly witnessed the WTC attacks and those who participated in the rescue and recovery efforts may be at increased risk for developing depression, with or without PTSD.  Depression can be a disabling condition that affects many aspects of a person’s life.

Symptoms include extreme sadness, inability to enjoy things, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, trouble sleeping or concentrating, loss of appetite and thoughts of suicide or death.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People exposed to the WTC attacks are also at increased risk for developing Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a mental health condition characterized by persistent, excessive and uncontrollable worry and anxiety about daily life and routine activities.

Symptoms include restlessness and irritability, muscle tension, difficulties with concentration, difficulty falling or staying asleep, body aches, trembling, jumpiness, headache, difficulty swallowing, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, sweating, hot flashes and feeling lightheaded and breathless.