Bullying and Depression
A common misconception about bullying is that this phenomenon does not result in negative long-term consequences. In reality, children and adolescents who are involved in bullying face a host of psychological difficulties. Oppositional defiant disorder (8), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and depression have been identified as mental health disorders that are associated with bullying (3).
Consequently, it is vital that parents and teachers become familiar with the signs of depression in youth and understand the factors that may be triggers for depressive symptoms in bullies, victims, and bully-victims (i.e., individuals who bully others and are also the targets of bullying). Once the connection between bullying and depression is understood, individuals will be better prepared to select interventions that combat both bullying behaviors and depression.
What is Depression?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) there are three depressive disorders (1):
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is characterized by one or more Major Depressive Episodes, which are periods of depressed mood or loss of interest that endure for at least two weeks at a time (18). Other symptoms of MDD include loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, diminished concentration, suicidal ideation, and changes in sleep, weight, or psychomotor activity.
- Dysthymic Disorder (DD) is a chronic, mild form of depression that includes symptoms such as depressed mood, irritability, and two other depressive symptoms. D
- Depressive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (D-NOS) is diagnosed when an individual’s depressive symptoms do not meet the criteria of the previous two disorders.
Although prevalence rates for depression in children and adolescents vary (18), they seem to fall between 1.6% and 8.9% (2). With respect to developmental trends, depression rates increase with age and rise dramatically during adolescence (19). Based on the prevalence of depression in youth, it is important to examine depression more thoroughly in the context of bullying.
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