People who are often bullied at a younger age may have a higher risk of developing psychiatric disorder by the time they reach adulthood, according to a new study.
In the study – published December 9 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry – the researcher found that being bullied as a child may cause depression that needs psychiatric treatment later on in life.
Dr. Andre Sourander, author of the study and a professor of child psychiatry at the University of Turku in Finland, said that the risk of developing depressive disorders is a lot higher in people who experience bullying in early childhood.
For the new study – which tracked children from age 8 to age 29 – the researchers looked at data on approximately 5,000 children in Finland. At the age of 8, the children were asked to fill out questionnaires about whether they were victims of bullying, whether they were bullies themselves, and about the frequency of this behaviour. Both the children’s parents and second-grade teachers were also asked similar bullying-related questions.
Based on the data, the researchers placed the children into four different groups: children who were never bullies, nor bullied, those who were victims of bullying but they themselves did not bully others, kids who were bullies but were not getting bullied, and kids who were both victims of bullying and bullies.
Researches then analysed the data on the mental outcomes of the children (when they were 16 to 29), which was collected by a Finnish nationwide hospital register.
The findings showed that of the 90 percent of children who were not involved in bullying, approximately 12 percent had developed a psychiatric disorder by the age of 30 or even sooner.
About 23 percent of those who were victims of bullying had been diagnosed with a mental health problem by the age of 30, and 20 percent of the children who were bullies had psychiatric disorder before they reached 30.
Those in the bully and victim group had it the worst in terms of mental health problem before the age of 30. According to the researchers, about 31 percent of them were diagnosed with psychiatric problems and needed special treatment. They also had the highest rates of schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders, the researcher found.
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