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New findings published in the BMJ has found that bullying may be responsible for nearly 30 percent of cases of depression among adults. As reported in the LA Times, this revelation has the study's authors suggesting that parents, teachers and public health authorities get serious about combating bullying.
The long-term study tracked 2,668 people from early childhood through adulthood, and researchers found that 13-year-olds who were frequent targets of bullies were three times more likely than their non-victimized peers to be depressed into adulthood.
"Depression is a major public health problem worldwide, with high social and economic costs," the researchers wrote. "Interventions during adolescence could help to reduce the burden or depression later in life."
Even when the researchers accounted for factors like a teen's previous and current behavioral problems, social class, child abuse and family history of depression, those who were bullied at least once every week were more than twice as likely to be depressed as adults.
Previous studies have already proven the link between bullying and depression. A group of researchers from four universities in England turned to data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, and asked children between the ages of 8 and 13 multiple questions about bullying. They found that name-calling happened to 36 percent of those surveyed and was the most common type of bullying. Twenty-two percent of the kids said bullies had taken their stuff, 16 percent said bullies had spread lies about them, 11 percent said they had been hit or beaten up, 10 percent had been shunned by their peers, 9 percent said they had been blackmailed, 8 percent said bullies tried to get them to do something they didn't want to do, 8 percent said they had been tricked and 5 percent said bullies had spoiled a game to upset them.
The results of the second study support for the idea that bullying during childhood leads to depression in adulthood, though they don't prove that one causes the other. However, 5 percent of teens who said they weren't bullied went on to suffer depression, while 15 percent of teens who were frequent victims reported being depressed as adults.