We all know that bullying can leave our children with bumps and bruises. The effects of bullying can be both physical and emotional, and they can last for many years. For example, bullying can result in ongoing issues, such as depression, that can have ramifications during adolescent years and even in adulthood.
Bullying can affect anyone, and it can happen anywhere, including at school, online, and in the workplace. The internet has provided a new channel for bullying, and the results of cyberbullying can be tragic. Below, we discuss the increasing number of suicides that occur as a result of bullying. We also discuss the long-term effects of bullying and how bullying can have a lasting impact on your child.
The Connection Between Bullying and Depression
While bullying can leave your child with physical bruises that will eventually heal, bullying can also result in long-term behavioral health issues. Children that experience verbal and physical bullying are at a greater risk of developing depression than children who do not experience bullying. In fact, one study finds that the consequences of childhood bullying, including depression, can persist even 40 years after the bullying occurred. Depression that results from bullying can cause a wide range of symptoms, and in extreme circumstances, bullying-induced depression can lead to suicide.
Signs of Long-Term Depression from Bullying
We all feel a little down now and then. However, when a child or teen experiences prolonged periods of sadness, they may suffer from depression and need an evaluation from a mental health professional. Common signs of depression among children and adolescents include:
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Not participating in activities they used to enjoy
- Exhibiting behavioral issues in school
- Receiving low grades and failing classes
If left untreated, depression can cause significant problems throughout a person’s life. For example, if depression causes a child to do poorly in school, they may not be prepared to attend college. In other cases, a teen who faces depression may turn to drugs or alcohol and develop substance abuse issues.
How You Can Help Your Child or Teen
As noted, depression can develop as a result of bullying and can have a lasting impact on a child. Seeing your child experience bullying and depression can be heartbreaking, and many parents do not know how to help. However, parents can take action to help their children deal with bullying and depression.
First, parents need to find out what is going on in their child’s life. Speak with your child’s teacher and school administrators and inform them of the issues your child is facing. After you determine the source of your child’s bullying issues, the school can take measures to stop the bullying from continuing.
Once the bullying stops, the child can begin processing their experiences and finding mental health support. An important first step towards healing is for parents to start a dialogue with their child. When parents have an open conversation with their child or adolescent about any signs of depression, they show the child that they care. Next, parents should seek help from a mental health professional. A trained mental health counselor or psychiatrist can evaluate a child’s needs and work with the child’s parents to develop a care plan. Sometimes, a child requires medication as part of a behavioral health treatment program.
Tackling Adolescent Depression Is a Team Effort
Helping a child with depression starts at home, and a child’s entire family needs to be supportive during the child’s recovery. If the affected child has siblings, parents should speak with each sibling individually and explain what is happening. Make sure to ask the child’s siblings to be patient and supportive.
Next, parents must meet with their child’s school counselor. Because the child will still need to attend school with the bully, the child will need an effective support system at school. A school counselor can help prevent future bullying and provide additional support for a child who is facing depression. The next member of a child’s support team is the behavioral health professional who manages the child’s mental health treatment program. Mental health professionals who specialize in childhood depression can have a significant impact on a child’s well-being.
Here at Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, we strive to help children and teens who are victims of bullying. We understand that dealing with bullying and depression can be extremely challenging for children and their families. Our dedicated mental health professionals can help children and adolescents process their experiences and recover from depression.
To get started at Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, parents should call us directly at (832) 834-7710. A member of our team can help answer any questions you may have and schedule a free mental health assessment for your child.