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Depressed, Anxious Children More Likely to Be Bullied

Bullying can lead to range of psychosomatic and psychosocial health problems

FRIDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- Children who are depressed and anxious are more likely to be bullied, and bullied children often develop a range of psychosomatic and psychosocial health problems, according to a study published in the May issue of Pediatrics.

Minne Fekkes, M.Sc., Ph.D., of the Netherlands Organization of Applied Scientific Research in Leiden, the Netherlands, and colleagues studied 1,118 children aged 9 to 11 years who completed two questionnaires six months apart to measure bullying as well as a range of conditions including depression, anxiety, bedwetting, headaches, sleep problems and tiredness.

Compared to children who were not bullied, those who reported that they were victims of bullying were more likely to develop new psychosomatic and psychosocial conditions. In addition, some psychosocial conditions preceded being bullied, although the same effect was not noted for physical symptoms. Children with symptoms of depression or anxiety were more likely to become bullied.

"Because victimization could have an adverse effect on children's attempts to cope with depression or anxiety, it is important to consider teaching these children social skills that would make them less vulnerable to bullying behavior," the authors write. "Children with anxiety or depression and additional possible risk factors for victimization, such as having few friends, being unpopular or being subassertive, should be referred to a psychologist or be trained in social skills to prevent bully victimization," they add.

The study was supported by a grant from ZorgOnderzoek Nederland.

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