Shalom Life | July 18, 2014

Study: Social Drinking Helps During Times of War

Israeli and American researchers find that having a few drinks with friends and loved ones helps with depression

By: Daniel Koren

Published: July 15th, 2014 in Health » Israel

For over a week now, Israeli citizens have been forced to deal with a constant bombardment of rocket fire from Hamas and the Gaza Strip. Even this morning, as IDF suspended its operation for six hours after agreeing to a ceasefire presented by Egypt, Hamas still pounded 50 rockets into Israel.

Naturally, this has taken on a toll on Israeli residents, both physically and emotionally.

Being under constant threat of rockets, with only fifteen seconds to find a bomb shelter once that siren goes off, can have a serious affect on your mood, and often leads to high rates of depression.

But, according to a new study by a team of Israeli and American researchers, reports the Times of Israel, there are ways to combat such depression from arising during times of instability and war: alcohol.

Of course, they're not suggesting becoming a full-fledged alcoholic. But socially drinking, alongside friends and loved ones, can statistically improve your mood and help you fight off depression during these difficult times.

The study refers to the IDF's Operation Cast Lead, which took place in 2008. During that time, casual drinkers seemed to become more depressed, while regular drinkers were able to maintain their optimism.

This, the study suggests, is caused because alcohol has the ability to heighten the feeling of happiness you receive from being around friends and loved ones.

The study, published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal, therefore supports the notion of drinking socially in order to prevent depression. It was conducted by analyzing a survey of over 1,600 Israelis and Palestinians during two different Middle East conflicts, and finding out how much they drank, and how it compared in terms of their happiness and/or depression.

“We already know that people who are facing all kinds of trauma drink alcohol as a coping mechanism,” said Daphna Canetti, who helped conduct the study. Canetti is a political scientist at the University of Haifa. “Our research shows for the first time that drinking can help people get through terrorism-related trauma, like what we’re experiencing in Israel right now.”

The study seems to be a rational choice for Israelis, as Israel's alcohol-abuse rate is known to be one of the lowest in the world. The fact that it's the fourth most-expensive city to buy a beer probably helps as well.

While the Israeli government has launched campaigns that show the affects of alcohol abuse, the study suggests that, if you're able to avoid abusing the substance, it can work wonders socially, and emotionally.

“We’re not saying you should start drinking more. Heavy drinking is a particularly unhealthy coping strategy, as lots of research shows,” said Jeremy Kane, who lead the study. Kane is a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins University, and a global mental health researcher. “But light-to-moderate alcohol use may serve as a key to unlock your social network and help you cope with terrorism and other traumatic events.”

Essentially, it seems what the researchers are trying to prove is that a little 'l'chaim' now and then never hurt anybody.

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