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How Boston-area Veterans with PTSD were affected by the Boston Marathon bombing

Many Veterans living in the Boston area who have been diagnosed with PTSD experienced flashbacks, unwanted memories, and other psychological effects as a result of the bombing that took place near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April 2013, according to VA's National Center for PTSD.

Researchers conducted 71 telephone interviews within a week of the bombing. Because they had symptom data from Veterans they had interviewed two months previously, they were able to compare their level of PTSD symptoms with results from the interviews.

Of those interviewed, 38 percent reported that they were emotionally distressed by the bombing and the subsequent lockdown of Boston and other communities. A majority of those participating said the bombing caused them to experience flashbacks and the reemergence of unwanted memories related to their own past trauma.

"This study highlights the fact that tragic local and national events of this type can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of individuals already suffering with PTSD," said lead investigator Mark Miller, PhD, staff psychologist for the National Center for PTSD's Behavioral Science Division in Boston. "It is crucial that relevant health care organizations are prepared in the wake of tragedy to care not only for those who are directly impacted, but also for those with preexisting psychological conditions, including our nation's Veterans." (Journal of Traumatic Stress, Dec. 2013)

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