Impact of Terrorism on the Development of Mental Health Symptoms

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Because the broad goals of terrorism are ultimately psychological, it is imperative to understand the magnitude and scope of the psychological casualties in the wake of terrorism and their biological correlates so as to identify the appropriate means of immunizing people to these effects. Although the majority of people exposed to terrorism experience acute distress, the most important observation to emerge from longitudinal studies of people exposed to terrorism is that these symptoms are transient for the great majority. It therefore becomes important from a public health perspective to be able to predict those at greatest risk for long-term problems. Those at risk for long-term symptoms appear to have a more intense reaction at the time of the trauma (e.g., peritraumatic dissociation, panic, or related emotional distress), associated with a more negative appraisal of danger. It is not clear whether and to what extent pretraumatic risk factors (e.g., prior adversity, family history of psychopathology, cognitive risk factors, or preexisting personality traits) influence the intensity of the peritraumatic response to trauma, but presumably these risk factors are more relevant in situations in which exposure is less severe. Posttraumatic risk factors, such as lack of social support, also seem to be important predictors of psychopathology, but the extent to which these reflect pre- or even peritraumatic risk factors is currently unknown. © 2007

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Stress
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Pages493-496
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9780123739476
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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