Bullying Exerts Psychiatric Effects into Adulthood

Bullying of Children topic presented in this issue:

  • Responding to Bullying



      Once considered a childhood rite of passage, bullying lingers well into adulthood. Bullies and victims alike are at risk for psychiatric problems such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide when they become adults, reported a study partially funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). This issue of NASET’s Bullying of Children series comes from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and focuses on research done on the lingering effects of bullying into adulthood.  In the study examined, compared to those who went through childhood unscathed, victims had four times the prevalence of agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder when they became adults. Overall, bullies had four times the risk of developing antisocial personality disorder. These disorders still stood even after other factors were taken into account, such as preexisting psychiatric problems or family hardships. Bully-victims fared the worst. Also known as “loners,” these individuals start out with less developed social skills and are seen as more impulsive and aggressive. When picked on, they respond by picking on others. Their numbers, compared to those never involved in bullying, tell the story: 14 times the risk of panic disorder, 5 times the risk of depressive disorders, and 10 times the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior.



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