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Survey: Oil spill more traumatic than Katrina for Gulf residents

By Mike Brunker, msnbc.com writer and editor

The vast oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been more traumatic than Hurricane Katrina for coastal residents, with 30 percent of those interviewed apparently suffering mild to serious psychological distress, according to a survey by a health care provider released Thursday.

The survey of 406 Gulf Coast residents, conducted for the nonprofit Ochsner Health System, found that the mental health impacts from the BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill were greatest for residents of Louisiana, the young and the poor.

Eighteen percent of Louisiana residents were suffering “probable serious” or “probable mild-moderate” mental illness based on the K6 psychological distress scale – more than double the rate found in a similar survey conducted in July 2007, two years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the state, the survey found. Fourteen percent of Floridians, 12 percent of Mississippians and 10 percent of Alabamans were similarly afflicted, it said.

Hardest hit were residents earning less than $25,000 annually, 32 percent of whom appeared to have “probable serious” mental illness on the K6 scale, it said.

Young respondents (22 to 44 years old) were in the same category, with money and work being the two biggest causes of their stress.

You can read more about the survey by clicking here.