Bullying and depression often go hand in hand for both the victims as well as the bullies. People who experience cyber bullying are at an even greater risk of developing clinical depression.
Fortunately, there are ways that parents can take action by being attentive to the warning signs and helping their children learn ways to stand up for themselves and develop strong self-esteem.
Links Between Bullying and Depression
Psychologists and child development experts have established many links between bullying and depression in children. The depression that results from being bullied may last for many years and can even linger after the bullying behaviors are stopped.
Children who have experienced cyber bullying may develop more serious symptoms of depression, especially if the bullying is perpetrated by anonymous individuals.
Some of the additional effects of being bullied include:
- Physical illness, aches and discomfort
- Low self-esteem
- Decreased participation in extra-curricular activities and hobbies
- Increased absence rate from school
Symptoms of Depression in Children
While some of the symptoms of depression in children are similar to the symptoms that adults experience, children may also react in other ways. Children may show more physical symptoms of depression.
Signs parents, caregivers and teachers should look for in the victims of bullying include:
- Unexplained outbursts of crying or anger
- Changes in sleep patterns, including increased sleepiness or insomnia
- Not being able to concentrate on school work or tasks
- Sudden changes in appetite or eating habits
- Increased tiredness, fatigue and slow movement
- Giving away of favorite or prized possessions
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Increased restlessness and anxiousness
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Increased talk of death and mentions of suicide
Taking Action to Prevent Bullying
Frequent communication with a child who is experiencing bullying is key to identifying the symptoms of depression. Parents along with teachers and other professionals can take steps to prevent bullying and depression that follows.
Physicians and school counselors can help parents and children gain access to the care and resources they need for overcoming the effects of bullying. In some cases, individual or family counseling may be recommended.
Any parent or professional who feels that their child is in immediate danger should treat the situation as a medical emergency and contact the appropriate local authorities for urgent assistance.
Bullying does not have to be a rite of passage for children if parents and teachers take action to end it.