Teen Bullying Is Linked To Adult Depression, New Study Says, Meaning We Really Need To Take It More Seriously

There are any number of things that can contribute to developing depression, from Facebook stalking to even possibly the way you walk. But according to one study, there is one major factor that contributes to adult depression: Teenage bullying. Apparently as many as 29 percent of all cases of depression among 18 year olds could be attributed to being bullied as teens. In other words, it's not just kids being kids; it's kids potentially messing with someone's whole future via decreased mental health.

In the study, researchers used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) in the UK to analyze what the correlation might be between teens who experienced bullying and the rate of depression. They also controlled for factors that might make a child more likely to be depressed and more likely to be bullied, such as anti-social behavior and social class. And what they found was that even after controlling for such factors, teens who were bullied were much more likely to develop depression.

Among teens who were never victimized by bullies, the researchers found, about five percent developed depression. But among those who reported they were frequently bullied, about 15 percent developed depression. In other words, kids who are regularly bullied are three times as likely to become depressed than those who are not bullied at all.

Paolese/Fotolia

Even more surprising, this study's model suggests that as many as 29 percent of depression cases among 18 year olds could be traced back to being bullied as adolescents, though the authors themselves say that more research would be needed to further investigate. But basically it seems clear that bullying is bad for mental health — which is yet another reason schools should take the problem seriously.

But it isn't just depression. Bullying has been linked with multiple other issues in adulthood, including things like cancer and diabetes; it can even change your brain chemistry. Nevertheless, research shows that current anti-bullying efforts are often ineffective, though there are things that have been shown to make an impact. For instance, just having a Gay Straight Alliance in a school can go a long way to helping students, both gay and straight. Still, various forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying, continue to be a big problem, particularly among LGBT students and students with disabilities.

So basically, it's long past time we found some new ways to address this issue. Because the evidence keeps mounting that it can impact people well beyond their teenage years.

Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images, Paolese/Fotolia