The number of cases of depression and anxiety nearly doubled among the residents of Sderot when Qassam rocket attacks on the town intensified at the beginning of the last decade, according to a recent study. At the same time the number of residents seeking anti-anxiety medication and anti-depressants also nearly doubled, with a 44% increase by the end of the study (2006-2007) from the 3.8 prescriptions for anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills per 1,000 residents at the beginning of 2000.
The study also found that 3.8 doctors visits per 100 residents per year shot up 68% to 6.4 per 100 in the years in which the attacks increased.
For the sake of comparison the study shows that during the same time span in Kiryat Gat, a nearby city, the opposite trend was seen: a 44 percent decline in the number of depression and anxiety-related medical visits.
“We also found fewer visits to the emergency room by Sderot residents during the period when there were a lot of Qassams and we believe the reason was a desire not to leave the town during periods of tension,” said Dr. Lital Goldberg from the Family Medicine department of Ben-Gurion University Medical School. Goldberg carried out the study together with Professor Pesach Schwartzman and Dr. Jacob Dreiher.
“It is worth considering adding mental health professionals to the clinics,” she said.
The study is set to be published in IMAJ, the journal of the Israel Medical Association.