Bullying and Being Bullied Increases Psychosis Risk


A new study conducted out of the UK further validates earlier research on the impact of bullying later in life.

Children not only remember the trauma, some may even suffer from psychotic episodes in the years following. The current study, led by Dieter Wolke, PHd of the University of Warwick in Coventry, involved 4,700 participants in the UK; children who were bullied by the age of ten were twice as likely to have a psychotic break by the age of 18.

This doesn’t surprise me; I still remember vividly being bullied by a group  of teenage girls who rode the same school bus I did.  I was in the third grade and was the only child on the bus who was in elementary school. I was so stressed that my weekends were ruined because I dreaded Monday mornings, when the torture would begin anew. Over time, I began to have “stomach aches” to keep from having to get on that bus.

But, another result of the study DID surprise me – -  interestingly those who are bullied aren’t the only ones at risk for episodes of psychosis; so are the bullies! The researchers discovered that bullies were five times more likely to experience psychotic episodes by the age of 18. The authors suggest that study results underscore the need for clinicians to question parents about whether or not their young patients have a history of bullying, or being bullied.

A 2009 study, also conducted  by Dr. Wolke, revealed that repeated bullying increases the risk of psychosis in early adolescence — researchers refer to this phenom as the “dosing effect” — each episode increases risk for mental disorders when the child is older.

Children who bully are at risk for more than mental health episodes – they are also more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as alcohol and/or drug abuse and unprotected sex.


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