Bullying and Bipolar Disorder

Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior where one individual intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort on another individual. Bullying is not limited to physical contact; it can also take form in speech and indirect or subtle actions.

Bullying has recently become a topic of interest for the general public, raising awareness for the many serious consequences that acts of bullying can cause.

Can Bullying Contribute to Bipolar Disorder?

Bullying can make life extremely difficult for the victim. Children who are bullied early on in life are at high risk for problems at school, social isolation and low self-esteem, and these issues can lead to dropping out of school, substance abuse and addiction, suicidal tendencies, abnormal behaviors and psychological disorders, like bipolar disorder.

While it was assumed that bipolar disorder was caused by a genetic deformity, recent research has indicated that evidence supports the theory that bipolar disorder is mostly brought on by environmental factors.

In many research studies on the causes of bipolar disorder, the most dominating causes of the disorder were related to environmental causes or things that happened during the individual’s life. The most common life events that appeared in case studies on the causes of bipolar disorder include the following:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Bullying
  • Discrimination based on sexual identity or race
  • Being poor and living in a wealthy community
  • Substance abuse or misuse
  • Poor diet or weight issues

Every major cause of bipolar disorder can be related to bullying. All acts of bullying are serious risks for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, substance abuse and mental health problems. Bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders, psychosis, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorders all have a strong correlation with bullying or abuse.

How Bullying Affects Mental Health

The psychological effects of bullying can persist for years and can affect a person into adulthood. Bullying puts an individual under a great amount of stress and duress. The fear, anxiety, panic, worry, guilt and other emotions that will inevitably arise after being bullied can take a physical and psychological toll on any person, especially a young child. The stress and negative emotions that result from bullying impact an individual’s brain and chemical balance, and this is what can lead to mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and personality disorders.

The relationship between bullying and bipolar disorder gets even more complex the longer the two issues go unaddressed. Victims of bullying and bipolar individuals are both high-risk candidates for substance abuse and destructive behaviors. Substance abuse can cause further damage to one’s chemical balance and mental health, exacerbating symptoms of bipolar disorder and other mental health problems.

The stress of being bullied can continue to trigger depressive or manic episodes until an individual gets help for these issues. Furthermore, bipolar individuals (or those with other mental health concerns) who have been victims of bullying or abuse can become bullies themselves.

The unaddressed anger, hurt and pain these individuals have can cause almost a retribution effect, where the individual needs to feel in control and powerful in order to block out the feeling of being the victim. Bipolar individuals have difficultly controlling their emotions, which can further contribute to problem behaviors, aggression, hostility, violence and more.