A new study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research reveals how the Israel-Hamas war has been affecting the mental health of Israelis.

Utilizing online platforms and social media to gather data between November and December 2023, the study found young adults aged 20–59 experienced acute stress symptoms and probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at much higher rates compared to older adults aged 60–87.

During the conflict’s first week, 24.8% of young adults reported acute stress symptoms, a figure that escalated to 42.8% in the weeks that followed, indicating probable PTSD. Conversely, older adults showed a lower incidence of acute stress (3.7%) initially, with 13.7% displaying probable PTSD symptoms later on.

“This study provides valuable insights into how different age groups respond to traumatic events,” said Bar-Ilan University Professor Amit Shrira. “Despite the challenges posed by the Israel-Hamas war, older adults demonstrated remarkable resilience compared to their younger counterparts.”

Professor Shrira attributes the significant disparity to the “inoculation hypothesis,” which suggests that older adults, despite facing declines in physical and social resources, possess robust coping mechanisms. These mechanisms, deeply embedded in extensive life experiences and advanced emotional regulation skills of older adults, empower them to manage stress more efficiently than younger individuals.

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