- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

"My eyes are visibly swollen from all the tears I shed each night mourning the loss of lives of people I don't even know," a woman wrote in her e-mail this week. "I have never been so unproductive in my life. If I finish this letter, it will be the first thing I've done all week."
The woman, who gave permission for her e-mail to be quoted but asked not to be identified, is not alone in her feelings, according to a poll of 1,200 American adults released yesterday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
Seven in 10 Americans say they have felt depressed since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Nearly half say they are having trouble concentrating and a third say they are having trouble sleeping, said the poll, which was conducted Sept. 13 through Monday.
This shows a "stunning psychological impact," said Carroll Doherty, editor at the research center.
The Pew survey found that Americans are turning to spiritual sources, with seven in 10 saying they are praying more.
It also found very strong support for a military response: Eighty-two percent favor retaliating against those responsible for the attacks. Seventy-seven percent support military action "even if it means that U.S. armed forces might suffer thousands of casualties."
Other polls have picked up staunch support for military action, but the Pew poll found a surprising amount of patience, said Mr. Doherty. Nearly 70 percent of Americans said they expected it to take months or years to capture or kill the terrorists.
Women, parents and East Coast residents are the most likely to have strong emotional reactions, the Pew survey found:
Seventy-nine percent of women say they are depressed, compared with 62 percent of men. Forty percent of women are having trouble sleeping, compared with 26 percent of men.
Seventy-six percent of parents say they are depressed, compared with 69 percent of non-parents.
Eighty percent of people who live on the East Coast are following the news of the attacks very closely, compared with 74 percent of those who live in the South and the West and 69 percent of Midwesterners.
Talking, crying, praying and commiserating are all important and useful parts of coping with grief, according to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).
"People are having a very normal reaction to a very abnormal event," said TAPS founder Bonnie Carroll, who is in Washington to help survivors of the Pentagon attack.
"Understanding that, and having the support of others who are going through it with you or who have been through something like it before, is invaluable," said Mrs. Carroll.
However, she cautioned, it is not useful to tell others "how" to handle their trauma. The best way to be a companion is to bear witness to the struggles of others without judging or directing those struggles, she said.
It's also wrong to say that everyone must talk about their feelings, said therapist Michele Weiner-Davis.
"While most people feel better if they talk, others feel worse," she said, adding that men are more likely than women to want to be silent.

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