Depression relates to more than just a feeling of sadness. While sorrowful feelings may fade with time and changes in mood, depression can last longer. A child that suffers from depression may experience low self-esteem as well as insecurity. These feelings can also translate into picking on other kids in the child’s school or community. Learn more about the connection between depression and bullying.
The Connection between Depression and Bullying: What is Depression?
Depression breaks down into many smaller conditions, according to the National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH. Minor depression may only affect a child for several weeks. It may vanish on its own or it may turn into major depression, which typically causes feelings of sadness so strong that the child has difficulty getting through their daily lives, NIMH explains.
Children may only experience major depression once or it could recur throughout their lives. Dysthymia functions similarly to depression in that it is mentally debilitating a person, but in this case the child must have felt this way for at least two years. Children may also experience seasonal affective disorder or SAD, in which cooler and darker days bring on feelings of hopelessness that eventually fade once the weather warms up and the days get longer.
The Connection between Depression and Bullying: What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
Your child will experience many symptoms that you as a parent likely cannot outwardly see. These include:
- Prolonged feelings of sadness and worthlessness
- A sense that life cannot get better
- Lack of interest in pastimes that used to hold high appeal
- Decrease in eating and weight loss
- Eating more than usual and weight gain
- Not sleeping throughout the night
- Sleeping too much and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning
- Inward and outward feelings of anger
- Lack of self-regard and even self-hatred
- Reckless behavior with suicidal feelings and impulses
The Connection between Depression and Bullying: How Does Depression Relate to Bullying?
Bullying occurs commonly in schools, with nearly 30 percent of children and teenagers nationwide experiencing it, according to Unified Solutions. A bully likely sees a child suffering from depression as a prime target. Worse yet, these bullied children tend to experience a worsening in symptoms, feeling great anxiety and trepidation when they go to school. As these feelings build up, the child may want to avoid school altogether.
Unified Solutions also notes that as children and teenagers grow up that prolonged bullying can devastate them. The child may experience worsening depression symptoms. They may commit suicide. Also, tragically, they may commit acts of violence upon others in their school in an attempt to get revenge on the bully.
The bullied child does not feel the effects alone, though. Oftentimes the bully actually suffers from depression as well. The bully likely feels insecure about himself or herself, Unified Solutions explains. As they try to bury those feelings, the bully acts out violently and targets smaller children around them.
The Connection between Depression and Bullying: How Can Kids Suffering from Depression Receive Help?
First, you should take your child to a doctor or a psychiatrist for an evaluation. According to NIMH, if your child already has a thyroid disorder or other condition then they may seem depressed. A doctor or psychiatrist can make the proper diagnosis. Once your child receives their diagnosis, you can pick among various treatment options. These include:
- Psychotherapy or regular therapy, specifically interpersonal therapy (IPT) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Antidepressant medications like Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Prozac
Oftentimes a doctor will prescribe both treatment options, as they work best in tandem. Therapy allows your child to learn how to speak about their feelings in an effective fashion. Antidepressants like serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) contain few side effects.
More on The Connection between Depression and Bullying
Depression and Bullying : How Can You Stop Bullying in Your School and Neighborhood?
You as the parent can help put an end to bullying in schools in your neighborhood and in your community. Working alongside other concerned parents as well as school staff can provide an effective means of containing bullying. Start by taking these steps from Stop Bullying:
- Provide a nurturing and helpful environment where your child can talk to you about their bullying experiences
- Encourage understanding and respect in schools when possible
- Change the school rules and repercussions for bullying
- Speak to all students to get them on board in reporting instances of bullying
- Enlist the local neighborhood to set up anti-bullying measures around the community
Bullying can wreak havoc on a child or teen’s life, making them feel nervous about going to school. Children suffering from depression may feel the effects of bullying even more, potentially leading to suicide or violent retaliation. Many bullies tend to suffer from depression as well. Proper depression treatment and strong anti-bullying measures can possibly cut bullying rates.