Study: Adults at higher risk for depression after childhood bullying

You may know that bullying can lead to depression, but what's even more troubling is that those issues don't go away when the bullying stops. 

Research shows a link between bullying and depression in children. Now, a recent study suggests when a child is a victim of bullying, depressive symptoms can stretch into adulthood.

Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Tatiana Falcone did not take part in the study, but says children who are bullied at very young ages are at higher risk of suffering from depression. 

"When the bullying happened when children are 10 years or younger, is definitely more impactful and have more risk factors for depression," she said. 

The study looked at more than 3,000 children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24. Researchers studied a variety of factors, including if a child was bullied and whether they had a genetic risk for depression.

They found being bullied during childhood was linked to depression, but the risk for depression into adulthood was much higher for children who also had a genetic risk for depression and a mother who had postpartum depression.

Dr. Falcone says previous research showed that bullying can impact the brain as severely as if someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury. And in children, bullying has been shown to impact depression both in the short and long term.

Dr. Falcone says depression is not typically the result of a single event, but is usually caused by a number of factors.

"Depression is a disease that has multifactorial avenues,' she said." That is not only the genetic factors; is not only the developmental factors; that you have genetic factors, and your environmental factors, that impact the development of depression."

The doctor believes we have to do everything we can to recognize and prevent bullying.

Some warning signs that a child is being bullied: unexplained injuries, missing personal valuables, frequent stomach aches, changes in eating habits, avoidance of social situations or school. 

Complete results of the study can be found online in JAMA Network Open, HERE.