Study: Americans Faced 9/11 With Confidence and Resolve

September 9, 2003 ( - While Americans could have been excused for falling into a deep post-9/11 funk, a new study by a disability insurance carrier found that many in the US were never emotionally healthier.

According to Fortis Benefits Insurance Co., new long-term disability claims for depression and anxiety-related disorders dropped by one-third in the 18 months immediately following the attacks, compared with claims for the 18 months just before.

The 33% claims drop occurred among long-term disability claims for depression, stress, panic, anxiety and similar conditions. The number of claims between March 11, 2000, and September 10, 2001, was compared with the number of claims for the period between September 11, 2001, and March 10, 2003.

The one-third drop in depression claims even held true in the Eastern Seaboard states – closest to Washington, DC and New York City where the terrorist attacks took place. Fortis Benefits data indicated that depression claims dropped 32.7% in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and the District of Columbia during the 18 months immediately after the attacks, compared to the same period before.

In both periods, the ratio of claims by men and women remained the same – two-thirds of the claims were filed by women, one-third by men. Also, claims by age were generally consistent before and after the attacks. Roughly one-fourth of anxiety-related claims came from individuals in each of two age groups: 30-39 and 50-59. About a third of such claims came from individuals in the 40-49 age group, according to Fortis. The balance of claims came from those younger than 30 and older than 60.

“No doubt, the terrorists wanted to send waves of fear and depression through the American public with these shocking acts of violence,” said Polly Galbraith, a doctor and Fortis vice president and medical director. “Instead, this claims experience suggests that Americans responded with confidence and a strong sense of resolve.”