Cyberbullying’s Effects on Depression and Mental Health

In our ever-growing digital world, our means of communication and interaction are becoming more and more hands-off. We can now engage in various conversations through our screens and keyboards. We can speak into the microphone of our smart-phones and have an entire paragraph sent out in a digital package. This serves many purposes, some intentional and others not. One of the biggest outcomes of this new technology has been the ability for people to “hide behind a screen.” When a person doesn’t have the face-to-face interaction with the other person, they can feel a lot braver about saying something rude. In this digital world, cyberbullying has become a very serious issue. More and more kids are being subjected to harassment online via every social media platform. It’s not just the youth either, as adults are also subject to being bullied online by other adults. With a layer of screens between us, people are tapping into their immature and vicious sides more often. They are no longer bound by physical expectations and social norms. In a lot of ways, cyberbullying has a greater reach than other kinds, since it’s not limited by physical proximity. A person no longer has to physically be next to you to bully you. This makes cyberbullying a real threat and a serious issue to contend with in terms of how it affects mental health. 

What Are the Actual Effects of Cyberbullying?

In a recent study, cyberbullying was shown to amplify the effects of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in young people. The study examined 50 adolescent psychiatric inpatients, ages 13 to 17. Participants were asked to fill out two childhood trauma questionnaires and a cyberbullying questionnaire. 20% of the youths reported having been cyberbullied within the last two months. Half of the participants had been bullied over text messages and the other half on Facebook. Other vehicles of cyberbullying were chat rooms, transmitted pictures or videos, Instagram, and instant messages. Those who had experienced bullying had a higher severity of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anger, and fantasy disassociation.

Another critical thing to note is that the participants who reported being cyberbullied had also reported significantly higher levels of lifetime emotional abuse. While further research is needed to show a link between childhood emotional abuse and a person’s risk of experiencing or reporting cyberbullying, it’s a worrying connection. 

It is important to remember that every participant in this study was an inpatient, so they all experienced some physical, mental, or emotional distress. But still, those who had experienced cyberbullying showed higher levels of PTSD, anger, depression, and more. This lines up with past research done and shows that cyberbullying really harms people. Cyberbullying is something that needs to be considered when evaluating someone’s mental or emotional state. It can cause symptoms of existing disorders to escalate beyond control. While it may not be the underlying cause of certain mental illnesses, it can cause those illnesses to get far worse. 

Protecting Ourselves From Bullying

To combat these effects, we can take action to prevent cyberbullying from happening in the first place. If we are being bullied, we can block a person on Facebook or other platforms. We can even look at ourselves and try to figure out what it is that is causing us to be bullied. Could it be something we are doing? Our behavior? We might even find that our actions are causing adverse effects. In some cases, the bullying, while still inexcusable, is a response to that. We can then adjust and make the necessary changes. If it is someone we care about who is being targeted, we can encourage them to do those things for themselves. At the same time, provide them with a safe place where they can confide in you. Bullying can create an immense sense of loneliness. Letting the victims of bullying know that you can be trusted goes a long way to alleviating this feeling of isolation. 

Bullying is a terrible thing, and with the new technology and digital platforms evolving every day, it has taken on an even scarier form. It can be everywhere now, and it begins to harm our mental health. But if we can curb those effects, and keep the bullying out of our lives, then we can start to combat it properly. Bullying won’t, unfortunately, ever go away, as there will always be people who will try to tear others down. Still, we can do everything in our power to keep it from bringing us down and help protect others. All life is valuable, and we don’t have to listen to insults. It’s just white noise in an empty echo chamber. 

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]