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Int J Emerg Ment Health. 2011;13(2):69-79.

Perievent panic attack and depression after the World Trade Center disaster: a structural equation model analysis.

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Department of Sociology, Kent State University, OH, USA.


Research suggests that perievent panic attacks--panic attacks in temporal proximity to traumatic events--are predictive of later mental health status, including the onset of depression. Using a community sample of New York City residents interviewed 1 year and 2 years after the World Trade Center Disaster, we estimated a structural equation model (SEM) using pre-disaster psychological status and post-disaster life events, together with psychosocial resources, to assess the relationship between perievent panic and later onset depression. Bivariate results revealed a significant association between perievent panic and both year-1 and year-2 depression. Results for the SEM, however showed that perievent panic was predictive of year-1 depression, but not year-2 depression, once potential confounders were controlled Year-2 stressors and year-2 psychosocial resources were the best predictors of year-2 depression onset. Pre-disaster psychological problems were directly implicated in year-1 depression, but not year-2 depression. We conclude that a conceptual model that includes pre- and post-disaster variables best explains the complex causal pathways between psychological status, stressor exposure, perievent panic attacks, and depression onset two years after the World Trade Center attacks.

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