According to a new study social support from friends can help buffer depression among adolescents in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
"Terrorism often leads to adolescent depression, but little is known about protective factors," said Prof. Golan Shahar from the Department of Psychology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).
For the study, the researchers examined adolescents (grades 7-9) who were indirectly exposed to a suicide bombing in Dimona, Israel who prior to the bombing there had already completed a questionnaire as a control group in a study of youth risk/resilience under stress for another study.
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 effect, 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 added.
The study was published in the July issue of Pediatrics.