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Strong Support Networks Can Lessen Depression and Harsh Effects from Terror Attacks in Teens

Strong Support Networks Can Lessen Depression and Harsh Effects from Terror Attacks in Teens

August 29, 2008

Negev Development & Community Programs, Press Releases

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, August 25, 2008 –- In a study on adolescent depression following terror attacks, Professor Golan Shahar of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel, and Professor Christopher Henrich of Georgia State University, report that social support experienced by these adolescents seems to protect against depression.

The research paper will be published in the upcoming issue of the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 47:9, September 2008, also known as “The Orange Journal.”  

Sderot rockets

Israeli police comfort a young woman after a rocket attack in Sderot.

The Journal article is titled “Social Support Buffers the Effects of Terrorism on Adolescent Depression: Findings from Sderot, Israel.  The study followed middle school students in the Israeli city of Sderot who have experienced seven years of ongoing terror attacks by Qassam rockets launched from the nearby Gaza Strip. Researchers examined whether higher levels of baseline social support protected the adolescents from adverse psychological effects of exposure to repeated trauma.

Twenty-nine participants were evaluated before and after a five-month period from May to September 2007, when daily rocket attacks from Gaza increased significantly.  Both evaluations measured adolescent self-reported depression, social support from family, friends and school in the context of the ongoing rocket attacks. According to Shahar, “This provided an exceptional and unique opportunity to examine risk and resilience processes in such a heavily burdened population.”

The findings indicate that a strong support system for adolescents could cushion the effects of depression caused by prolonged exposure to rocket attacks. According to the authors, “These findings highlight the potential importance of community mental health efforts as protective resources in times of traumatic stress. More research on the subject is necessary to determine the extent to which support helps students cope with the difficulties.”

Shahar and Henrich, both members of their university’s psychology departments, have been collaborating for over eight years, publishing more than 10 joint papers on the role of stress, risk and resilience in the development of children and adolescents.

The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is the major journal focusing exclusively on psychiatric research and treatment of the child and adolescent.

This is the first publication of research on rocket attacks funded by the Israel-U.S. Bi-national Science Foundation (BSF).  Founded in 1972, the BSF supports innovative joint research between American and Israeli scientists, thus strengthening the friendship between the two countries. Research grants are offered in a wide range of scientific fields, on a competitive, peer-reviewed basis.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. Activities include showcasing BGU’s academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU’s main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion’s vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications