Childhood bullying ups psychotic experiences later in life

ANI| Updated: Dec 18, 2013, 10:15 AM IST
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Washington: A new study 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.

Researchers at the University of Warwick 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 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 behavior 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.

The study is published in Psychological Medicine.