Bullying Victims High Risk of Social Anxiety Disorder

Having been a bully or the victim of a bully is generally thought to be a problem of childhood and adolescence which becomes virtually non-existent with the passage into adulthood. A research study published in the Journal of American Medical Association – Psychiatry (JAMA Psychiatry) reports that effects of bullying continue well into adulthood significantly increasing the risk for psychiatric problems such as depression, social anxiety disorder, and suicidal thoughts as well as the development of substance abuse of illegal drugs and/or prescription medications.

Types of Bullying Behaviors

Bullying defines a group of repetitive, aggressive behaviors used to abuse or intimidate others and establish psychological or physical dominance over its victims. Bullying may take place in person or online. Bullying behaviors include physical intimidation or actual assault, verbal intimidation, or social intimidation.

In adulthood bullying may be seen in work and social settings, where the victim is teased, threatened, punched, kicked, pushed, excluded from the group, or where hurtful rumors are spread. In the “virtual world” bullying can come via text messages, public or shared videos, Facebook posts, private e-mails, or in online group forums.

Bullying versus Victim Statistics

Research studies have looked at three main subgroups related to bullying. One group contained those who admitted to bullying others, a second study group was for victims of bullying, and a third group was for those that were bully-victims. Bully-victims are those that have been both a victim and a bully, picking on others in response to being picked on themselves. The statistics of each subgroup follows:

  • Bullies display 4 times the risk of developing antisocial personality disorder than their non-bully social peers. Bullies tend to be the most socially adept and may use their bullying skills to assist them in rising up through social tiers and interactions.
  • Victims show 4 times the prevalence of generalized anxiety, agoraphobia and panic disorder as adults when compared to those adults who were not bullied growing up. Victims of bullying report the greatest anxiety problems overall.
  • Bully-victims have 14 times the risk of developing panic disorder, 5 times the risk of being diagnosed with depressive disorders and 10 times the risk of having suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Overall bully-victims have the most significant emotional issues which includes suicidal actions.

Successful Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder

The treatment of social anxiety disorder related to bullying may include a combination of medications, cognitive behavioral therapy and a variety of adjunct therapies dependent upon the severity of social anxiety, other co-existing mental health issues such as depression, suicidal thoughts or substance abuse.

The memory of being a bully or a victim of bullying may have been repressed, yet the suffering continues. Working closely with experienced mental health professionals can lead you through the healing process to a productive life without the fear, anxiety, or depression of your current situation.

Bullying – Victims Social Anxiety Doctor

Call Dr. Hege’s office for a confidential appointment and comprehensive evaluation.

About Darvin Hege

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is an Emory Hospital residency trained psychiatrist who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years. He maintains over 50 hours of AMA certified education each year to stay informed of advances in psychiatry.

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