Bullying is not just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up

The study of more than 1400 children and adolescents, categorized participants into four groups: bullies, victims, bullies/victims, or neither (controls). All but the control group were found to be more prone to develop psychiatric disorders in early adulthood, whether bullied once or multiple times. Bullies were found to be four times more likely to have antisocial personality disorder—a psychiatric condition that carries with it a disregard for the rights of others. Bullying victims showed a higher prevalence of forms of anxiety—they were three times as likely to have generalized anxiety disorder (a condition that typically involves irrational worry about common situations), five times more likely to have agoraphobia (a condition often characterized by fear of public and/or uncontrolled spaces) and three times as likely to have panic disorder (a disorder accompanied by “panic attacks”). Youth who had been both bullies and victims were five times more likely to have major depressive disorder, 15 times more likely to have panic disorder, and in the case of males, 19 times more likely to be suicidal.

The researchers acknowledged other causal risk factors for psychiatric disorders and for bullying, including family hardship, childhood psychiatric conditions and personality characteristics, but the new research demonstrates there is a link between childhood bullying and mental illness in young adulthood.

Read more about the study in Psychiatric News

An abstract of “Adult Psychiatric Outcomes of Bullying and Being Bullied by Peers in Childhood and Adolescence” is posted at http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1654916.

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