Most people probably associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with men and women who have been in battle during war or experienced a traumatic life-changing event such as 9-11.
A new study says that children who are victims of bullying can also suffer from PTSD and the effects can last into adulthood. The study, published by Thormod Idsoe, Atle Dyregrov, and Ella Cosmovici Idsoe, found that about 33 % of bullying victims suffer from PTSD. In addition, 40 to 60 % of adults who have been bullying victims suffer from high levels of the signs of PTSD as well.
PTSD can have a very disruptive effect on ones daily living. PTSD is a mental health disorder defined by nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks, uncontrollable thoughts about the event, and avoidance behavior.
"Pupils who are constantly plagued by thoughts about or images of painful experiences, and who use much energy to suppress them, will clearly have less capacity to concentrate on schoolwork," Idsoe said in a statement. "Nor is this usually easy to observe - they often suffer in silence."
Researchers at the University of Stavanger, in Norway, analyzed data from 963 students who were 14-15 years old. While boys were more likely to report they were being bullied, they found that girls were more likely to display PTSD symptoms.
Of the students who reported being bullied, 27.6% of boys and 40.5 % of girls had symptoms of PTSD. Researchers were not sure why some bullied children suffered from PTSD and some did not. "We...found that those with the worst symptoms were a small group of pupils who, in addition to being victims of bullying, frequently bullied fellow pupils themselves," Idsoe said. "One explanation, for example, could be that difficult earlier experiences make the sufferers more vulnerable, and they thereby develop symptoms and mental health problems more easily."