Israelis seen at a bar in Tel Aviv during Operation Protective Edge. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Israelis seen at a bar in Tel Aviv during Operation Protective Edge. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Israeli and American researchers have found that social drinking during periods of terrorism and war can reduce the risk of depression. And this could be one of the reasons Israeli cafes and bars are still humming despite the continued Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

“Social support is consistently associated with reduced risk of depression. Few studies have investigated how this relationship may be modified by alcohol use, the effects of which may be particularly relevant in traumatized populations in which rates of alcohol use are known to be high,” write the researchers in the background synopsis of their joint article published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The researchers interviewed a representative sample of 1622 Jewish and Moslem citizens in Israel during the 2008 Operation Cast Lead. They found that occasional drinkers and those who did not drink at all were more prone to depression than regular drinkers.

“The effect of social support was stronger for those who drank alcohol regularly than those who did not drink or drank rarely,” the researchers wrote. “These findings suggest that social support is a more important protective factor for depression among regular drinkers than among those who do not drink or drink rarely in the context of political violence.”

“We already know that people who are facing all kinds of trauma drink alcohol as a coping mechanism,” Daphna Canetti, a political scientist at the University of Haifa, who helped conduct the study, told The Times of Israel. “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.”