Gena* was bullied since she was in the third grade. As a result she developed depression and had to get professional help. By the time she was 11 she was doing better, was no longer depressed, and the bullying had subsided. However, at 14 when students again started bullying her, it brought back the flood of memories that she had experienced as a child and her depression resurfaced. Gena feels confident, however, that she will overcome the periods of depression she again experienced, and endeavours to maintain a positive outlook (Bullying and Depression blog – Kids Helpline). *not real name
If you have been the victim of bullying or are experiencing ongoing bullying, you are not alone. Statistics show that one in ten children and teens experience bullying weekly. A study involving over 16,000 children and teens indicates that depression is likely to occur as a result of bullying and that the chances of “severe suicidal ideation” also increases as a result (British Medical Journal). Knowing that can help you realize that any depression or suicidal thoughts that you experience as a result of bullying is a natural consequence of the bullying, and that there is nothing “wrong” with you, that hundreds of thousands of your peers are also going through the same thing.
Interestingly, though, not only do those being bullied experience increased depression and suicidal ideation but the bullies themselves similarly have a higher rate of depression, and an even higher rate of suicidal ideation than those being bullied. Bullies themselves have psychological problems that can be causing, or that can be partly a result of their bullying practices. The study reported in the British Medical Journal encourages professional psychological intervention for bullies in addition to intervention for those being bullied.
Education.com states that bullies often possess “love self-esteem,” “low self-worth” and “view themselves in a negative manner,” which often leads to “unhappiness” and depression. Because bullies often have “low self-worth” they often resort to mocking and ridiculing others in an effort to make themselves look better in the eyes of their classmates. They use their victims as a stepping stool to rise above their own lack of self-esteem. Understanding why bullies behave the way they do can help victims of bullying put things in perspective. The bullies themselves have psychological issues and need issues and need help—it mightâ€‹ be the way the bully is being raised at home, maybe he or she is the victim of ridicule and name calling or is a neglected child or teen.
Cyberbullying, Bullying and Depression Blog Commentary
Privacy and security lawyer Patty Attab who founded the organization Wired Safety, when asked to contrast cyberbullying with offline bullying, states on her bullying and depression blog, “Both are hurtful and unacceptable.” Physical bullying often involves physical assaults and pain, however, cyberbullying is often protracted and very persistent, and can actually result in higher rates of depression than offline bullying. One of the reasons for this is the feeling of anonymity that can accompany Internet use. Many feel there are no legal or ethical boundaries when they use the Internet and that there is no way of “proving” who the source is of cyber-attacks that involve bullying other teens.
Another reason that the effects of cyberbullying often lead to depression is that information posted on the Internet is persistent. Once information or photos are posted on the Internet, what you post “stays online – forever,” states Attab, and while it is possible to get information that has gone viral off of the Internet, it isn’t easy. Teenagers need to give pause for concern about any information or pictures they might post on their social networking pages and elsewhere. Photos easily go viral, and a teen can ask, “do I want the whole world to see this picture or story about me?”, or “can it become a source of bullying?”
Recovery from Bullying and Depression
Teen victims of bullying needn’t give in to despair. Suicidal thoughts are a common result of being bullied and you are not alone. The vast majority of teens who get help when they are experiencing depression or experience suicidal thoughts recover and overcome both the bullying and depression. For most teens, depression they experience in their teenage years does not persist forever but they are able to overcome it as adults. Knowing that there is an end in sight can help you not give up if you are experiencing depression as a result of bullying. In other words, it seems like what you might be going through now will last forever, but it probably won’t. When you pass your middle school years and Freshman year in high school, students tend to develop more maturity, more resources may be available for support, and you will develop more experience in dealing with difficult students.
Don’t give up, then, if you experience depression that is the result of bullying. You can succeed and the light at the end of the tunnel will help you keep going.