Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 11 : A study has revealed that children bullied during childhood are at the risk of developing depression, heart disease and diabetes in adulthood.
The study appeared in journal of Harvard Review of Psychiatry.
"Bullying, as a form of chronic social stress, may have significant health consequences if not addressed early," said Susannah J. Tye from Mayo Clinic.
"We encourage child health professionals to assess both the mental and physical health effects of bullying," Dr. Tye added.
Bullying has been linked to an increased risk of psychiatric disorders, although there are still questions about the direction of that association.
"Once dismissed as an innocuous experience of childhood, bullying is now recognised as having significant psychological effects, particularly with chronic exposure," explained the authors.
Any form of continued physical or mental stress can put a strain on the body, leading to increasing "wear and tear."
With increasing allostatic load, chronic stress can lead to changes in inflammatory, hormonal, and metabolic responses.
The study suggests that over time, these physiological alterations can contribute to the development of diseases--including depression, diabetes, and heart disease-- as well as progression of psychiatric disorders.
"When an individual is exposed to brief periods of stress, the body can often effectively cope with the challenge and recover back to baseline," Dr. Tye explained.
Early-life stress exposure can also affect the way in which these physiological systems respond to future stressors.
"Asking about bullying...represents a practical first step towards intervening to prevent traumatic exposure and reduce risk for further psychiatric and related morbidities," they noted.
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