The Most Common Psychological Effects of Bullying


Depression is an intense feeling of extreme sadness. Many of us feel depressed from time to time, but to be clinically depressed you must feel this way for at least two weeks straight. People who are depressed find it difficult to care about much. Things that used to make them happy no longer intrigue them. They often have to force themselves to smile or laugh.

Kids and teens who are bullied may suffer from this clinical depression, especially if it happens very often. This is not limited to face-to-face bullying, either.  A study by the US National Institutes of Health, reported by Reuters, found that victims of cyber bullying showed more signs of depression than other bullying victims. The depression may continue or recur as adults.

Some symptoms and signs of depression include, but at not limited to:

  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  • Outbursts of crying or anger
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too little or sleeping too much)
  • Changes in appetite or eating habits
  • Always feeling tired
  • Frequently anxious or worried
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Often feeling worthless, hopeless, and guilty
  • Aches and pains without no physical cause


Suicidal Thoughts

The worst effect of bullying is when the tormented individual beings thinking suicidal thoughts. Suicide is the third leading cause of suicide in young people, causing resulting in roughly 4,400 deaths each year, according to the Center of Disease Control. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts.

Bullying victims have been found to be significantly more likely to consider suicide than people who have not been bullied. Bullying-related suicide (often referred to as bullycide), can be attributed to any form of bullying, whether it’s physical, emotional, or cyber.

Signs and symptoms of suicidal thoughts include, but are not limited to:

  • Talking more about death
  • Doing research online about suicide methods
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness and not wanting to live
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Severe anxiety
  • Withdrawling or isolating self from others
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Showing rage or expressing need for revenge
  • Suddenly happier or calmer after a major bout of depression or anger
  • Losing interest in things that are usually cared about
  • Visiting or calling many people out of the blue
  • Giving possessions away


In an emergency, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


Body Dysmorphic Disorder

A problem that is on the rise, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a body image disorder that enstills a neurotic preoccupation with a subtle or imagined physical irregularity, such as weight, moles, freckles, breast size, muscle size, acne, skin color, hair, or facial features like the nose and eyes. This often begins during adolescence and treatment is difficult. When someone incessantly insults a person’s appearance, even if it’s just one or a few traits, the taunting can cause the victim to feel obsessively ashamed by them. The effected person will exaggerate these traits in their minds and go to extreme measures to hide or fix them, even though they often may not even exist. For example, a young woman who is a healthy, normal weight may be constantly distressed over being “fat”, even though she is clearly not fat to other people.

Some signs and symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder include:

  • Preoccupation with minor or imaginary physical flaws
  • Frequently looking in the mirror, or avoiding mirrors altogether
  • Frequent cosmetic measures with little satisfaction
  • Excessive grooming
  • Extreme self-consciousness
  • Refusing to be in photos
  • Comparing appearance with others
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Wearing excessive makeup or clothing to hide perceived flaws


Eating Disorders

A person with an eating disorder practices extremely unhealthy eating habits. This may be caused by an obsession with the way their body looks, or could be an inherent problem that is difficult to control.  There are several different types of eating disorders.

  1. Anorexia Nervosa –Someone with anorexia is afraid of gaining weight. He or she may often skips meals and restrict caloric intake to a very unhealthy level in order to lose weight.
  2. Bulimia Nervosa – Bulimia is also associated with the fear of gaining weight, but the effected person uses a different dangerous method to lose weight. He or she will eat large amounts of food in a short period of time (binging) and then make themselves vomit (purging). The person may also use laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills and exercise excessively.
  3. Binge Eating Disorder – This type of eating disorder happens when a person often eats too much (to the point of feeling sick) and cannot control themselves. They do not purge (that would be bulimia) because they do not have a fear of becoming fat.

When a person is picked on for the way they look, it can often lead to Body Dysmorphic Disorder (see above), which may then lead to an eating disorder. Someone who is teased for being “fat” may become fixiated with their weight and go to extreme measures mentioned above to change themselves (anoerexia and bulimia). Some people eat too much in an attempt to take away or forget about their pain (binge eating).

Signs and symptoms of an eating disorder include, but are not limited to:


Preoccupation with food / weight / body

Eating alone or in secret


Shame or guilt




Unrelenting fear of gaining weight

Excessive weight loss

Hair loss

Sensitivity to cold


Lack of menstruation

Low blood pressure

Faintness or dizziness

Shortness of breath



Symptoms of Anorexia

Enamel erosion

Loss of teeth

Gum disease

Swollen salivary glands

Rupture of esophagus


Binge Eating

Inability to stop eating or control what you’re eating

Eating even when you are full

Eating rapidly and in large amounts

Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret

Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes

Feeling stress that is only relieved by eating

Feeling numb while binge eating

Never feeling satisfied, not matter how much is eaten

Feeling guilty, disgusted or depressed after eating


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This effect often happens later in life, when the bullied individual is an adult. When a traumatic event such as bullying occurs, the person may experience that event again later in their minds. This does not have to be one single event; it may be a series of events.

Signs and symptoms of PTSD include, but are not limited to:

  • “Reliving” the event(s) through flashbacks, upsetting memories, nightmares, and similar situations
  • Avoidance of people, places and things that remind you of the event(s)
  • Feeling detatched
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Emotional numbness
  • Startling easily
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance (feeling more aware)
  • Irritiability, outbursts of anger
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness and / or fainting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Frequent headaches


If a person is suffering from any of the above, get them to a doctor or counsellor. If a person is having suicidal thoughts or has attempted suicide, this should be considered an emergency and the person should get immediate medical help from a doctor, by calling 9-1-1, or by going to the emergency room.



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