Bullying in teenage years is strongly associated with depression later on in life, suggests new research published in The BMJ this week.
Depression is a major public health problem with high economic and societal costs. There is a rapid increase in depression from childhood to adulthood and one contributing factor could be bullying by peers. But the link between bullying at school and depression in adulthood is still unclear due to limitations in previous research.
So a team of scientists at the University of Oxford, carried out one of the largest studies on the association between bullying by peers in teenage years and depression in early adulthood. They examined the relationship between bullying at 13 years and depression at 18 years.
They analysed bullying and depression data on 3,898 participants and found that of the 683 teenagers who reported frequent bullying at more than once a week at 13 years, 14.8% were depressed at 18 years. And of the 1446 teenagers who had some bullying of 1-3 times over six months at 13 years, 7.1% were depressed at 18 years. The most common type of bullying was name calling — 36% experienced this, while 23% had belongings taken.
If this were a causal relationship up to 30% of depression in early adulthood could be attributable to bullying in teenage years, explain the authors, adding that bullying could make a substantial contribution to the overall burden of depression.
While this is an observational study and no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, researchers say that interventions to reduce bullying in schools could reduce depression in later life.
BMJ. (2015, June 2). Nearly one-third of early adulthood depression could be linked to bullying in teenage years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150602200506.htm