New York, Jan 22 (PTI) Cyberbullying can amplify symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in young people, according to a study which may lead to new targeted interventions for teens to overcome the mental illnesses.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, examined the prevalence of cyberbullying in 50 adolescent psychiatric inpatients between the ages 13 and 17, and related it to their social media usage, current levels of symptoms, and histories of adverse early life experiences.
'Even against a backdrop of emotional challenges in the kids we studied, we noted cyberbullying had an adverse impact. It's real and should be assessed,' said Philip Harvey, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami in the US.
According to Harvey, children with a history of being abused are more likely to be cyberbullied, suggesting that assessments for childhood trauma should also include assessments for cyberbullying.
He added that children who report being cyberbullied should also be assessed for a history of childhood trauma.
'Cyberbullying is possibly more pernicious than other forms of bullying because of its reach. The bullying can be viral and persistent,' Harvey said.
According to the study, being online regularly, or the amount of time spent on social media weren't factors determining if someone would be cyberbullied.
It also noted that cyberbullying cuts across all economic classes and ethnic backgrounds.
The findings revealed that a fifth of the participants had been cyberbullied within the last two months before their admission.
Half of the participants said they were bullied by text messages, and half on Facebook.
Some of them said they were bullied via transmitted pictures or videos, Instagram, instant messages and chat rooms.
The researchers said those who had been bullied had significantly higher severity of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anger, and fantasy dissociation than those who were not bullied.
Harvey suggested that psychologists, psychiatrists, and other counsellors could ask young people if they were abused or traumatised when they were younger, and whether they were being bullied now.
He explained that adding these questions to the clinical evaluation of adolescents may bring to light symptoms that are otherwise ignored, which may be targeted for specific intervention. PTI VIS VIS VIS