friendsA new study on adolescent depression following terror attacks, confirms long-held beliefs that show social support is an excellent tonic for depression.

The research paper by Professor Golan Shahar of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel, and Professor Christopher Henrich of Georgia State University will be published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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.”

Source: American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev