It was found that nearly 30 percent of cases of adult depression can be linked to bullying during teen years.
For the study, researchers have examined 3,898 students, asking 13 year old participants questions about bullying.
These surveys were followed up with inquiries into depression five years later.
Teenagers who are bullied are twice as likely as their non-bullied peers to develop depression as adults.
A total of 7.1 percent of those who experienced occasional bullying between one and three times over a six month period were found to be depressed at age eighteen. It was found that this number more than doubled to 14.8 percent among students who reported frequent bullying more than once a week, when they were 13. Just 5.5 percent of them said they were never bullied at the start of their teen years were depressed when they reached the age of maturity.
Depression lasted for more than two years was reported by 4.1 percent of the unbullied group and 10.1 percent of those who experienced the behavior on a regular basis.
As this study relies on observational evidence instead of controlled experiments, it is impossible to say whether or not bullying directly leads to depression.
Claude Knights, head of the anti-bullying organization Kidscape said, “We have known for some time that bullying has long-term consequences for targets of this destructive behavior. The adolescent period can be challenging for many young people and for those who also experience bullying it can be extremely difficult, and it is not uncommon for mental health issues to develop.”
The most common form of bullying was name-calling, followed by taking personal things. Most of the students don’t tell their parents and teachers about these incidents.
Researchers believe that implementation of strong policies at school could help to reduce the behavior and the accompanying depression.
Maria Ttofi, lecturer in psychological criminology wrote in the editorial accompanying the paper, “Such substantial work should lead to further reflection about the need for early intervention. Effective antibullying programs can be seen as a form of public health promotion.”
Between 25 and 33 percent of all students in the United States report they have been bullied in school. A smaller number of students were also victims of online cyberbullying. The most common victims are those who are different from their peers in one way or another.