The ongoing issue of bullying in schools seems to be affecting more students than ever.
Bullying can have more far-reaching consequences than just emotional distress. Last year alone, there were over 3 million lost school days due to bullying. That’s not including the days kids can’t attend school because they seek medical attention.
Read on to learn more about some of the mental health effects of bullying that researchers know about today.
Anxiety and Depression
People who are often bullied have excessive worry and fear, which are the main signs of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). They may worry about things like their safety, their relationships with other people, and their future. This constant worry can make it hard for them to do something daily.
Bullied people often have depression as well. Depression often causes people to feel sad and hopeless and lose interest in or happiness from things they used to enjoy. Bullied people may have difficulty finding joy in life and have a profound sense of despair.
Depression may show through physical symptoms like changes in sleep and eating habits. Bullying victims may have trouble sleeping, making them tired, irritable, and low energy.
Low Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
One of the most common mental health effects of bullying is low self-esteem. Bullying often makes people have a skewed and lousy view of themselves. Victims may think they are weak, unlikable, or not good enough to deserve love and respect. They may take their bullies’ hurtful words and actions to heart, which can make them feel bad about themselves all the time.
Bullied people often feel they don’t deserve happiness, success, or love. They might think they deserve to be mistreated, making it hard to speak up for their wants and well-being.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Bullying can hurt a person’s mental health and well-being severely and for a long time, both during and after the bullying. Bullying can leave many problems behind, lasting for years or even a lifetime.
Some people who have been bullied severely and for a long time may develop PTSD symptoms. It can also significantly impact a person’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. Due to their symptoms, victims may find it challenging to engage in school, work, or social activities.
Bullying victims with PTSD may experience flashbacks, which are vivid and distressing recollections of the traumatic events. Reminders of the bullying experiences can trigger these flashbacks.
People with PTSD may need specialized mental health care, like recovering in a PHP or Partial Hospitalization Program.
When someone is bullied, one of the first things they might do is stop talking to others. Victims may become less willing to interact with others out of fear of being hurt or rejected again. They may withdraw from social situations by cutting themselves off physically or mentally.
Isolation from other people can make you feel very alone and cut off. Victims may feel like they are the only ones hurting, which can worsen their emotional pain. You can cause mental health problems like depression and worry worse by being alone.
Academic and Occupational Consequences
Bullying can make it hard for students to concentrate, pay attention, and be interested in their studies. Bullied students may do worse in school, leading to lower marks or even failure.
Teen bullying can also have long-term effects. People who were frequently bullied when they were young may still be affected by it when they are adults and working. Low self-esteem, anxiety, or a lack of confidence could make it hard for them to move up in their jobs or reach their professional goals.
Some people, especially teens and young adults, may turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the mental pain and stress that different types of bullying cause. Bullying can cause anxiety, depression, and painful memories that can be temporarily relieved by drugs or drinking.
People who are constantly bullied may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their anxiety and sadness. They may use drugs to dull the pain of their feelings, even though this short-term fix will hurt them in the long run.
Self-harm and Suicidal Ideation
Some people who have been bullied hurt themselves to deal with their feelings of excessive pain and stress. People often see it as a way to regain control of their emotions.
People who are bullied repeatedly are also more likely to think about killing themselves and exhibit suicidal behavior. The constant pain and lack of friends can make a person feel useless and that there is no way out.
Distrust and Paranoia
Bullying can make people feel like they can’t trust others. People, including friends, acquaintances, and people in positions of power, may be hard to trust to have good motives.
They can also get paranoid, which is more than just being suspicious. It includes an intense and often irrational fear of other people. People may think other people are out to get them or trying to hurt them somehow.
Difficulty Coping with Stress
Victims of bullying often develop hypervigilance, a heightened state of alertness, and anxiety in response to perceived threats. This hypervigilance can make relaxing challenging and lead to chronic stress.
Bullying can disrupt emotional regulation, making managing and expressing emotions difficult. Individuals may experience intense emotional reactions to stressors, which can be overwhelming.
Some individuals who have experienced bullying may employ avoidance coping strategies when faced with stress. Instead of addressing stressors directly, they may avoid them or turn to unhealthy behaviors like substance abuse or self-harm.
Learn About the Mental Health Effects of Bullying
Bullying is a serious issue with dire consequences. It is essential to take preventative measures and access proper treatment to heal and recover from the mental health effects of bullying. If you or someone you know is a victim of bullying, remember that you are not alone and do not have to suffer in silence. Reach out for help and support today.
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