Daily Israel Report

Study Links Rocket Attacks with Trauma

A study conducted in Israel links rocket attacks to depression, post-traumatic stress. Warning systems found to reduce trauma.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/15/2010, 5:47 PM / Last Update: 4/15/2010, 9:00 PM

Flash 90

A study conducted in Israel by an international team has found links between various factors and the development of depression, post-traumatic stress, and similar disorders. The subjects of the study were Israeli civilians living under terrorist rocket fire from Gaza during the Cast Lead counterterror operation in late 2008 and early 2009.

The team was led by Professor Yair Bar-Chaim of Tel Aviv University, and its findings were published by the American Psychiatric Association.

The findings will be made public in Israel as well, at a conference at Tel Aviv University on April 27 tol be attended by many researchers, both Israeli and foreign, who specialize in emotional and behavioral disorders in children. In addition to the latest findings on trauma, researchers will discuss the latest developments and studies regarding treatment of trauma.

Bar-Chaim's study focused on post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety among civilians caused by war. The study found that the chances of post-traumatic symptoms were higher for civilians closest to the front lines, where rockets frequently exploded and where there was less warning time in advance of rocket strikes.

Those living far enough from Gaza to have one minute or more in which to seek shelter after rockets were launched suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress at roughly the same rate as did those living outside the range of rocket fire altogether. Subjects who felt they had time to seek cover and protect themselves were far less likely to suffer trauma than were those who had little time to react to attacks.

The study also found that life under rocket fire sometimes led to cognitive disengagement from threat. As cognitive disengagement grew, subjects were more likely to develop pathologies such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The study has implications regarding researchers' understanding of the human mind's response to extreme stress. It also demonstrates the psychological effect of warning systems, such as the Color Red rocket alert used in Israel, during wartime.