How to Handle the Health Effects of Bullying

February 1, 2017
Jenny Holt
Two pairs of hands clasped together.

Most often, someone who bullies preys on people they deem to be vulnerable, weak, or unusual in some way. Kids and adults who bully usually take some pleasure in making people unhappy; it allows them to feel powerful. Those who abuse others in this way are often unable to understand the long-term impact that their treatment can have.

Bullying can be:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Sexual
  • Discriminatory

All forms of abuse can leave the victim suffering for many years, even after the abuse has stopped. Their mental health is greatly affected, which can then impact their physical health.

Effects on mental health

Bullying can have a devastating impact on an individual’s mental and emotional health, even when the bullying occurred in childhood. A study in JAMA Psychiatry shows that eight-year-olds who suffered bullying were more likely to suffer depression or another psychiatric disorder as adults. Being bullied, whether at school or later in life, can also cause stress, fear, and social anxiety.

Effects on physical health

The mental stress caused by bullying can lead to physical health problems. Stress like this can lead to an impaired immune system resulting in frequent colds, illnesses, and even an increase in the development of allergies. You may fall behind at work or in school if you are absent more often due to illness, and this may lead to further stress and worry. In addition, stress and anxiety can increase the risk of developing heart disease and digestive problems.

What you can do

How do you handle the health effects of bullying? The most effective way to cope with your health problems is to address the issues causing them. If you are still being bullied, you can prevent further harm to your health by telling someone you trust or by confiding in a mental health specialist. They will be able to advise you on how to cope with your stress.

It can also help to find ways to control your stress response. Relaxation and breathing techniques can be effective and can help relieve any pain associated with bodily tension. Reducing the amount of stress you are under can prevent further health problems from occurring.

You can help stop others from suffering the same fate by being proactive in your school or workplace. Should you see someone being bullied, do something, and stop someone from suffering from long-term health problems.

About the author

Jenny Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two. She loves getting away from it all and taking her pet Labrador, Bruce, for long walks, something she can do a lot more now that she's left the corporate world behind.

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