Schizophrenia.com

Childhood bullying shown to increase likelihood of psychotic experiences in later life


#1

New research has shown that being exposed to bullying during childhood will lead to an increased risk of psychotic experiences in adulthood, regardless of whether they are victims or perpetrators.

The study, published today in Psychological Medicine, assessed a cohort of UK children (ALSPAC) from birth to fully understand the extent of bullying on psychosis in later life – with some groups showing to be almost five times more likely to suffer from episodes at the age of 18.

The analysis, led by researchers from the University of Warwick, in association with colleagues at the University of Bristol, shows that victims, perpetrators and those who are both bullies and victims (bully-victims), are at an increased risk of developing psychotic experiences.

Even when controlling for external factors such as family factors or pre-existing behaviour problems, the study found that not only those children who were bullied over a number of years (chronic victims), but also the bullies themselves in primary school were up to four and a half times more likely to have suffered from psychotic experiences by the age of 18. Equally concerning is that those children who only experienced bullying for brief periods (e.g. at 8 or 10 years of age) were at increased risk for psychotic experiences.

The term ‘psychotic experiences’ covers a range of experiences, from hearing voices and seeing things that are not there to paranoia. These experiences, if persistent, are highly distressing and disruptive to everyday life. They are diagnosed by GPs or psychiatrists as “psychotic disorders” such as schizophrenia . Exact diagnosis is difficult and requires careful assessment as in this study.

Professor Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick explained, “We want to eradicate the myth that bullying at a young age could be viewed as a harmless rite of passage that everyone goes through – it casts a long shadow over a person’s life and can have serious consequences for mental health”

“These numbers show exactly how much childhood bullying can impact on psychosis in adult life. It strengthens on the evidence base that reducing bullying in childhood could substantially reduce mental health problems. The benefit to society would be huge, but of course, the greatest benefit would be to the individual.”

When controlling for external factors such as family factors or pre-existing behaviour problems, the study found that not only those children who were bullied over a number of years (chronic victims), but also the bullies themselves in primary school were up to four and a half times more likely to have suffered from psychotic experiences by the age of 18. Equally concerning is that those children who only experienced bullying for brief periods (e.g. at 8 or 10 years of age) were at increased risk for psychotic experiences.

Wolke’s team have previously looked at the impact of bullying on psychotic symptoms in 12 year olds, and there have been a range of short term studies that confirm the relation between being a victim of bullying and psychotic symptoms. This study, however, is the first to report the long term impact of being involved in bullying during childhood - whether victim, bully or bully-victim – on psychotic experiences in late adolescence or adulthood.

Professor Wolke added, “The results show that interventions against bullying should start early, in primary school, to prevent long term serious effects on children’s mental health. This clearly isn’t something that can wait until secondary school to be resolved; the damage may already have been done.”

Notes:

The cohort used was the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), popularly known as Children of the 90s, a birth cohort study based in South West England.

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-12/uow-cbs121713.php


#2

I am not sure if this includes bullying in secondary school(i was teased in primary but more bullied in secondary) but i am sure bullying was a primary trigger for my chronic paranoia.
Years later(nearly 40) i still expect to be treated badly/mocked and ridiculed and am wary of new people.


#3

i was bullied alot in my school…


#4

That, I can see makes a lot of sense, triggering paranoia, however, could it be the cause, or does it just weed out the already predisposed people to have their symptoms present along with adding to it (intensifying it). Still a very interesting piece.


#5

I am not sure i was paranoid before the bullying(anxious-yes) but i’d say i definitely had issues before the social anxiety and then paranoia set in. I was definitely physically and socially awkward and off key compared to my peers and siblings. I sense that i wouldn’t have been singled out for bullying if i hadn’t been those things.
There wasn’t much in the way of child psychology/psychiatric services 45+ years ago but i am sure if i presented as a child now with the same problems i’d fairly quickly be flagged up as a child needing psychological/psychiatric attention.


#6

I was bullied until I beat up their ringleader outside of the church, after confession (I went to a catholic school and I was an atheist) when I was 13. Then they all sucked up to me like i was the new big dog. Made me disgusted, to have the same kids who had pushed me around in front of their girlfriends to show off grovel before me. Made me really disgusted.


#7

I was bullied, but I was semi schizo already. Maybe my behavior/demeanor resulted in the bullying.


#8

I don’t remember that I was bullied, but I had enemies which I didn’t do anything to let them oppose me, but maybe they get offended because I felt superior to all and I had an ego of a queen (a symptom by sz, I can’t help it), and I was an anti-social person, but I had lots of fans and I was famous in the school, everybody knows my name, they come to me and call me by my name and know few things about me and I never met them !