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Social Support Buffers Depression

In perhaps one of the most extreme settings imaginable, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have conducted a “before and after” study of depression and terrorist attacks in adolescents.

Their findings reveal that strong social support from friends is a buffer from depression in terrorism-related stress.

The study, believed to be the first of its type, was published in the July issue of Pediatrics, the journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Terrorism often leads to adolescent depression, but little is known about protective factors,” said Prof. Golan Shahar from the Department of Psychology at BGU, who conducted the study with Dr. Christopher Henrich from Georgia State University.

The team examined adolescents (grades 7-9) who were indirectly exposed to a suicide bombing in Dimona, Israel. Prior to the bombing there, the same students had already completed a questionnaire as a control group in a different study of youth risk/resilience under stress.

When the suicide bombing occurred, the researchers decided to focus on the factors that might have a protective effect against developing depression as a result of a traumatic event, such as the bombing.

Pre-bombing depression and social support from friends, which were measured during initial data collection were used to predict post-bombing depression measured by a perceived social support scale.

Participants were interviewed by telephone 30 days after the bombing about their bombing-related stress and depression. None of the Dimona teenagers had directly witnessed the bombing, but some had heard the explosion, while others knew people who had suffered physical or emotional damage, or saw media reports of the attack.

“The results showed that bombing-related perceived stress was associated with an increase in continuous levels of depression from before to after the bombing. Pre-bombing social support from friends buffered against this effect,” said Shahar.

“We found that the more socially happy adolescents were, the easier it was for them to protect against the depressogenic effect of terrorism-related perceived stress.”

Shahar states that the “findings should serve as a basis for the development of innovative preventive interventions for adolescents exposed to terror attacks.”

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

Social Support Buffers Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Social Support Buffers Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/07/21/social-support-buffers-depression/7235.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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