Age differences in acute stress and PTSD symptoms during the 2023 Israel-Hamas war: Preliminary findings

Amit Shrira, Yuval Palgi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Traumatic exposure can result in acute stress symptoms in the immediate aftermath and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that persist beyond the initial weeks. Both short-term and long-term reactions require research and clinical attention. There is considerable evidence for age differences in PTSD, and older adults frequently present lower rates of PTSD compared to young adults. Much less is known concerning age differences in acute reaction or the extent to which age differences in PTSD are affected by age differences in acute stress. The current study examined acute stress and PTSD symptoms among young and older adult Israelis during the 2023 Israel-Hamas war. A web-based sample of 428 participants (mean age = 48.36 ± 16.29) completed retrospective accounts of pre-war psychological distress and acute stress in the first week of the war and further reported current PTSD symptoms. Rates of elevated levels of acute stress symptoms and probable PTSD were significantly higher among young adults (24.8% and 42.8%, respectively) compared to their older counterparts (3.7% and 13.7%, respectively). Age differences in probable PTSD remained significant even after controlling for other demographics, traumatic exposure, pre-war psychological distress, and acute stress symptoms. These preliminary findings further attest to the impressive resilience manifested by older adults during wartime. Moreover, as age differences in probable PTSD were not fully explained by acute reactions, unique mechanisms may be mobilized by older adults to cope with warfare trauma in the short- and long term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-114
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - May 2024

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© 2024 Elsevier Ltd


  • Acute stress
  • Older adults
  • PTSD
  • War


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