Orthostatic Panic as a Key Vietnamese Reaction to Traumatic Events: The Case of September 11, 2001

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This article discusses a culturally specific response to traumatic events: orthostatic panic attacks among Vietnamese refugees. We compared the rate and severity of orthostatic panic as well as the rates and severity of associated flashbacks a month before and a month after September 11, 2001. After that date, the rate and severity of orthostatic panic greatly increased, as did the rate and severity of associated flashbacks. The central role of orthostatic panic as a response to traumatic events is illustrated through a patient’s vignette. An explanation of why September 11 so profoundly influenced this population is adduced, including an explanation of why it resulted in considerable worsening of orthostatic panic.