There’s no doubt that awareness of bullying has gained momentum across the United States, particularly from those brave enough to step forward. While removal from the situation is often the remedy, more and more studies are beginning to confirm that there are lingering effects, even into adulthood, for those that bully, for those that are bullied, and for those that play both roles.
Past studies have focused generally on the short-term effects of kids that are bullied as well as the ones that bully or play both roles, only giving a glimpse into the mind of children during that time. Yet, to gain a better understanding of how bullying may or may not affect individuals over time, a few recent studies have followed children into adulthood. Specifically, researchers were looking for links to mental health disorders, such as depressive and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Other mental health disorders considered were substance dependence and antisocial disorders.
The following findings were based on information obtained from 1,400 children ages 9, 11, and 13. The same participants were then questioned between ages 19 and 26.
Generally, children that were victims only had an increased risk for depressive-type disorders, including anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is classified as a fear of a place or situation that may cause panic or embarrassment. Thus, it includes avoiding certain situations and places out of fear.
Children that found themselves in both roles—both the victim and the one bullying experienced a vast array of depressive and anxiety-based disorders. In addition, this particular group reported having suicidal thoughts and severe panic attacks.
By contrast, the participants that were only bullies did not exhibit the same risk for mental health disorders. Rather, they suffered from antisocial disorder.
While these findings are based on one study with a few controlled variables, they are not to be taken as fact. Even so, researchers are confident enough in the long-term effects of bullying to state that there is strong evidence supporting that bullying leads to emotionally instability as an adult. The bottom line is—bullying, in any form, is not simply part of growing up. The psychological damage doesn’t go away when the bullying stops.
If your adolescent or teen has been exposed to bullying in any form, we want to help guide you through the unchartered wilderness of anxiety that comes as a result. At Nathan’s Waypoint, we invite you to take part in a free one-hour consultation to determine whether we can help you during this stressful and overwhelming time.
Posted on behalf of Nathan's Waypoint