If you’re still thinking about bullying as a right of passage that kids need to handle on their own, you may be putting your teen’s mental health in danger. Being a victim, a witness, or even a perpetrator of bullying can lead to serious mental health concerns, including depression. Idaho mental health treatment programs can help teens suffering from depression related to bullying and other causes.
Contact Imagine Boise today 208.487.8260 for more information.
What Defines Bullying?
Bullying is more than a single incident of teasing. It is defined as aggressive behavior that makes a person feel scared or uncomfortable. Physical bullying may involve hitting, slapping, kicking, or punching.
Although physical aggression is a serious problem that needs intervention, it’s not the only type of bullying behavior that can leave emotional scars.
Three other types of bullying to be aware of include:
- Verbal Bullying: Name-calling, teasing, and insulting
- Social Bullying: Purposeful exclusion, gossiping, spreading cruel rumors, or public embarrassment
- Cyberbullying: Posting threats, cruel remarks, or embarrassing pictures on social media
Cyberbullying can be dangerous in a technology-driven world where most teens are active on at least one social media platform. This type of harassment doesn’t stop once a child leaves school. Cyberbullies can text or email their targets around the clock.
The Link Between Bullying and Depression
Being bullied by peers can be just as detrimental to a teen’s mental health as mistreatment from parents or caregivers.
A recently published study in Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics found that young people who were bullied had more significant mental health problems than those who suffered verbal abuse from their parents or guardians.
Another study featured in The Atlantic concluded that depression and other mental health concerns caused by bullying could last for up to 40 years after the bullying occurred.
Bullying not only makes a child feel unsafe, but it can also erode their self-esteem and personal confidence. Teens and adolescents who are victimized may feel powerless and hopeless – strong emotions that can lead to depression.
Signs of depression in teens can be hard to notice because they often look like the “normal” moody behaviors associated with being a teenager. If you’re concerned that your child is being bullied, watch for the following indicators of depression:
- Avoiding school or other social activities they once enjoyed
- Physical complaints such as stomach aches or headaches
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Performing poorly in school, low grades, or skipping school
- Developing behavioral issues
- Having low self-esteem
- Experiencing new sensitivities to rejection or failures, either real or perceived
- Having trouble focusing
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Feeling sad and crying more than usual
- Isolating themselves from others
- Having trouble following personal hygiene practices
- Experiencing angry outbursts
Depression and bullying are serious issues that need direct attention. If left untreated, a teen may develop continued, long-term depression with symptoms that become more severe with time.
Self-harming thoughts and behaviors, including substance use and suicidal thoughts, are the biggest risks associated with bullying and mental health. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States, with depression and bullying being significant risk factors.
What Can Parents Do About Bullying and Depression?
The first step for parents and other care providers is to take symptoms of bullying and depression seriously. Talk with your teen, and resist the urge to dismiss their experiences as a normal part of growing up.
Remember that your child may hesitate to talk because they feel ashamed or guilty about being bullied. Teens are especially concerned about being a “snitch” or having their access to social media limited. It may be easier for a teenager to talk to a mental health professional than a parent.
Find Help for Bullying and Mental Health Problems at Imagine Boise
Imagine Boise offers mental health services for adolescents and teens struggling with bullying and other issues affecting their emotional well-being. Call or contact Imagine Boise today at 208.487.8260 for more information about protecting your teen’s mental health.