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The Mental Effects of Bullying on Teens

a teen appears sad and socially isolated as a result of bullying

According to, approximately 160,000 U.S. teens skip school annually because of bullying. It’s a severe and pervasive issue that can negatively impact the teen physically and mentally. Without proper treatment programs to handle the effects of bullying, a victimized teen is at a much higher risk of developing depression and even PTSD.

The effects of bullying on teens can be long-lasting, making it vital to provide teens with the help they need to process and move past trauma. Contact Imagine Boise at 888.597.2807 for more information on teen bullying.

Mental Effects of Bullying on Teens

Bullied teens have a much higher risk of developing depression. This depression can last well into adulthood if the underlying cause is not treated. Depression can present with signs like:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Appetite changes
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Low mood
  • Fatigue
  • Isolation

Anxiety usually accompanies depression and can be debilitating. It makes it more difficult for teens to learn to trust others and to form relationships with peers and adults.

Bullying effects on teens also include difficulties in dealing with daily life. This can lead to academic problems and low self-esteem. It creates a cycle of a teen feeling like other people are better and smarter than they are, a feeling that is perpetuated with every bullying incident.

Self-criticism is another mental effect of bullying. Because teens receive such negative comments about themselves from the bully, they can start believing them. They may face negative feelings about things they cannot change, like their height, skin color, and race.

Isolation is also a concern. Bullied teens can have such low self-esteem that they prefer to be alone. Teens may spend most of the day in their room. Some may skip school or pretend to be ill to stay at home.

Bullying can also cause toxic stress if a teen experiences frequent and strong adversity without adult support. When the stress response system is active for too long, it disrupts the development of the brain and increases the chances of developing cognitive- and stress-related diseases.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Bullied Teens

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop in a bullied teen. A study published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health states that of the number of children who experienced child and teen bullying, 50% had PTSD.

Some of the signs of a teen with PTSD include:

  • Anxiety
  • Being easily startled
  • Guilt
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Avoiding triggering situations
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks of the traumatic experience

PTSD that is not treated can lead to substance use disorders and self-harm. Some teens with PTSD will show outward signs of stress, agitation, and anxiety, while others will internalize the stress. This can result in intrusive thoughts and flashbacks, among other symptoms.

Treatment Options for Bullied Teens

Teens who experience mental health concerns because of bullying need to undergo treatment to ensure there are no lasting effects that can impact them as they grow into adulthood.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is particularly beneficial for dealing with bullying effects on teens. Because CBT focuses on changing negative thought patterns, it can allow teens to improve their self-esteem and learn coping techniques for what triggers them.

Turn to Imagine Boise for Teen Bullying Help

There are treatment options if your teen has experienced bullying and shows signs of mental distress like anxiety, depression, or PTSD. With intensive cognitive-behavioral therapy, as well as group sessions conducted in a safe environment, Imagine Boise can offer the assistance needed to deal with the effects of bullying on teens. Turn to Imagine Boise by calling 888.597.2807 today.