Duke Researchers: Wounds From Bullying Stick Around For Years

Feb 21, 2013

Duke researchers say bullying can lead to anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide up to 20 years later.
Credit John Steven Fernandez via Flickr / flickr.com

A study from Duke University says adults who were bullied as children are much more likely to have anxiety or depression. 

The report released Wednesday followed more than 1,000 people over 20 years, starting in grade school.  It says bullying victims are at four times the risk of developing anxiety disorders.

"We have to remember when kids are in school, they're spending as much or more time with their peers than they're spending with their families," says Dr. Bill Copeland, lead author of the study.

"What this is kind of suggesting is that those peer effects might be just as potent in terms of long-term functioning as what goes on at home."

Copeland says the group of children who were bullied, but also bullied other children were at highest risk among the study's participants for depressive disorders or thoughts of suicide.  He says more research is needed to determine whether people experience the same long-term effects from cyber-bullying.