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Health & Parenting

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Bullied Teens Bear Mental Scars


Girls who feel isolated due to bullying are particularly susceptible to mental health problems, says study author Lyndal Bond, head of the research unit at the Centre for Adolescent Health at Royal Children's Hospital in Victoria.

"For girls, having good attachments is very important; if they don't have them, they're almost six times more likely to report depressive symptoms the next year," Bond tells WebMD. "Having arguments with others is also very important: again, they are fives times more likely to report depressive symptoms, and [if they experience] victimization, [they are] two-and-a-half times more likely to report depressive symptoms."

Bond says that the study is the first to show in a longitudinal or "real-time" fashion the impacts of victimization on depression. "Conversely, depression doesn't seem to predict the occurrence of victimization, which some people think -- that if someone is a bit withdrawn that he might be more of a target," she says.

Pollack tells WebMD that boys are as deeply affected as girls by bullying, but are socialized to respond differently. "When we use standard measures, boys tend to score lower on the scales of anxiety and depression because of their socialization model in which, when the questions are relatively face value, boys tend to deny a certain level of pain when they have it."

He says that boys are just as likely as girls to be depressed or anxious as a result of bullying, but tend to respond more with some type of action, such as cutting school or lashing back at their tormentors.

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