Nearly a quarter of Israeli Jews reportedly suffering from PTSD after October 7

Levels of stress in Israel are unprecedented, says Tel Aviv study


TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JANUARY 06: People hold signs and photos of hostages as they take part in a rally calling for the release of all hostages held in the Gaza Strip on January 6, 2024 in Tel Aviv, Israel. More than 100 Israeli hostages captured on Oct. 7 remain held in Gaza by Hamas and other militant groups, according to Israeli authorities. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Nearly a quarter of Israeli Jews are reportedly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to a new study from Tel Aviv University.

The report concludes that almost a quarter of Jewish adults are now sleeping less, moving less, and have far more stress, confirming fears of an emerging mental health crisis in Israel.

The levels of stress surveyed by Tel Aviv University are unprecedented, exceeding those during the most deadly wave of Covid, and at the height of the judicial reform protests last summer. The 23 per cent figure is also three times higher than the rate of Americans who suffered from PTSD after 9/11.

Tel Aviv University Professor Dan Yamin put the increase in PTSD down to an increase in news consumption. Since October 7, graphic videos of the massacre have spread across social media. “The pervasive circulation of explicit and unfiltered graphic content, including videos of horrific acts across various media channels, may contribute to a rise in PTSD rates among individuals indirectly exposed to traumatic events,” he said.

CNN reported last month that Israeli mental health services are struggling to deal with the mass trauma of October 7. Hundreds of volunteers are filling in to support the families of those killed, injured, or taken hostage. “The mental health situation of everyone is getting worse,” Dr Shapira Berman, a psychoanalyst at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told CNN.

As well as the questionnaires, the researchers behind the study gave smartwatches to 5000 participants and monitored their mental and physical activity. Data shows a significant decline in steps taken each day, as well as the quality and length of participants’ sleep.

Danny Horesh, a leading researcher in traumatic stress, told Haaretz earlier this month that Israel is in a state of “compounded trauma”. “I am referring here to the concept of indirect trauma, in which much of what I experience is something that happened to someone I know,” he said. “We are a small, densely populated country, so almost everyone knows at least one person who has been harmed by the war in some way”.

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