By On June 15th, 2007

PTSD is taking its toll in the form of sleeplessness among men in New Orleans

During a presentation at the Associated Professional Sleep Society, Denise Sharon, M.D., Ph.D., of Tulane and the Sleep Medicine Center of the Gulf Coast, discussed some intriguing findings from her clinic’s post Katrina stats. According to Dr. Sharon, “Our data shows an increase in the number of male patients and insomnia complaints after Katrina, despite an overall decrease in initial sleep medicine evaluations…” During the four months before Katrina the clinic saw 21 patients for insomnia; during the four months after Katrina, and despite the dramatic decrease in population in New Orleans, the clinic treated 13 patients for insomnia. Out of those treated for insomnia during the first four months following Katrina, nearly half were men, highly uncharacteristic of insomnia stats. The following is an excerpt of an article from Med Page Today that speculates about the dramatic increase of insomnia cases among men in New Orleans.

However, Dr. Sharon suggested:

* More men than women are engaged in the cleanup efforts. The constant work in a polluted environment might be a factor in their sleep habits.
* Men who came back to New Orleans with their families may have returned not realizing that their work was no longer there — their place of business destroyed by the hurricane. She said these men actually now had time to come to the doctor’s office for long-delayed treatment.
* The fact that these men had lost homes, lost jobs, or lost family members, could have caused them to have sleep disturbances.

“The change in demographics for insomnia appeared to be a long-term phenomenon, Dr. Sharon revealed. She showed that in the period from Jan. 1, 2005 until August 28, 2005, there were 29 patients at the center, located about 10 miles west of New Orleans, who sought treatment for insomnia. Only seven of those patients were men — less than 25%.”

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