May 8, 2009

Bullying ups psychotic symptoms

[Posted: Tue 05/05/2009 by Olivia Fens]

Children who are consistently bullied by peers appear more likely to develop psychotic symptoms in early adolescence, a new study has found.

Recent studies have demonstrated an association between traumatic events such as abuse in childhood and psychosis in adults.

In the English study, of more than 6,400 children, researchers noted psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, delusions or thought disorders) and peer victimisation, defined as negative actions by one of more other students with the intention to hurt.

The study found that the risk of psychotic symptoms was approximately doubled among children who were victims of bullying at age eight or 10, regardless of other psychiatric illnesses or the child’s IQ.

“Severe peer victimisation has adverse, long-term consequences for children,” the researchers said.

“Reduction of peer victimisation and of the resulting stress caused to victims could be a worthwhile target for prevention and early intervention efforts for common mental health problems and psychosis,” they concluded.

The study was published in the Journals of American Medical Association’s Archives of General Psychiatry.