Bullied Teens at Higher Risk of Developing Adulthood Depression

Pharmacy Times, October 2015 Diabetes, Volume 81, Issue 10

Teenagers who are bullied during their formative adolescent years are more likely to develop depression as adults.

Teenagers who are bullied during their formative adolescent years are more likely to develop depression as adults, recent study results suggest.

The study, the results of which were published online in BMJ, analyzed data on 3898 teenagers in an attempt to discern the potential relationship between adolescent bullying and adulthood depression. The participants each completed a questionnaire about bullying at age 13 years and an assessment of depression at age age 18 years.

The research team found that 14.8% of the 683 teenagers who reported being bullied more than once a week were depressed at age 18 years, as were 7.1% of the 1446 teenagers who were bullied between 1 and 3 times over 6 months. In comparison, 5.5% of teenagers who did not experience bullying were depressed at 18 years.

After analyzing their findings, the authors determined that frequently bullied teenagers had an approximately 2-fold increased risk of developing depression in adulthood compared with those who did not experience bullying. The data indicated that this association was similar for both males and females.

The study authors explained that, should this relationship prove to be causal, up to 30% of depression in early adulthood could be attributable to bullying during teenage years. Although they acknowledged that their study was observational and that they cannot make definitive conclusions about causality, they suggested that reducing bullying in school could reduce the overall burden of depression.