Tackling bullying could help reduce depression in autistic teens

University of Bristol| June 2018 | Tackling bullying could help reduce depression in autistic teens

A new study from Bristol University has found teenagers with difficulties in social communication, including autism, have greater rates of depression, especially if they are being bullied. 

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The researchers used data from a longitudinal study and  discovered that children with autism, and young people with autistic traits, had greater symptoms of depression at age 10 than peers without autism. This trend continued until the children and young people were 18 (via Science Daily).

 

The full news story is available to read from Science Daily

An article based on this study has been published in JAMA Psychiatry

Abstract

Importance  Population-based studies following trajectories of depression in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from childhood into early adulthood are rare. The role of genetic confounding and of potential environmental intermediaries, such as bullying, in any associations is unclear.

Objectives  To compare trajectories of depressive symptoms from ages 10 to 18 years for children with or without ASD and autistic traits, to assess associations between ASD and autistic traits and an International Statistical Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10) depression diagnosis at age 18 years, and to explore the importance of genetic confounding and bullying.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Longitudinal study of participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children birth cohort in Bristol, United Kingdom, followed up through age 18 years. Data analysis was conducted from January to November 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ) at 6 time points between ages 10 and 18 years. An ICD-10 depression diagnosis at age 18 years was established using the Clinical Interview Schedule–Revised. Exposures were ASD diagnosis and 4 dichotomized autistic traits (social communication, coherence, repetitive behavior, and sociability). An autism polygenic risk score was derived using the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium autism discovery genome-wide association study summary data. Bullying was assessed at ages 8, 10, and 13 years.

Results  The maximum sample with complete data was 6091 for the trajectory analysis (48.8% male) and 3168 for analysis of depression diagnosis at age 18 years (44.4% male). Children with ASD and autistic traits had higher average SMFQ depressive symptom scores than the general population at age 10 years (eg, for social communication 5.55 [95% CI, 5.16-5.95] vs 3.73 [95% CI, 3.61-3.85], for ASD 7.31 [95% CI, 6.22-8.40] vs 3.94 [95% CI, 3.83-4.05], remaining elevated in an upward trajectory until age 18 years (eg, for social communication 7.65 [95% CI, 6.92-8.37] vs 6.50 [95% CI, 6.29-6.71], for ASD 7.66 [95% CI, 5.96-9.35] vs 6.62 [95% CI, 6.43-6.81]). Social communication impairments were associated with depression at age 18 years (adjusted relative risk, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.05-2.70), and bullying explained a substantial proportion of this risk. There was no evidence of confounding by the autism polygenic risk score. Analysis in larger samples using multiple imputation led to similar but more precise results.

Conclusions and Relevance  Children with ASD and ASD traits have higher depressive symptom scores than the general population by age 10 years, which persist to age 18 years, particularly in the context of bullying. Social communication impairments are an important autistic trait in relation to depression. Bullying, as an environmental intermediary, could be a target for interventions.

 

The article can  be read in full at JAMA Psychiatry 

Full reference:

Rai D, Culpin I, Heuvelman H, et al.| Association of Autistic Traits With Depression From Childhood to Age 18 Years| JAMA Psychiatry | Published online June 13, 2018| doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1323

 

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Sibling bullying in middle childhood and psychotic disorder at 18 years of age

Researchers from the University of Warwick studied the incidence of psychotic disorders in individuals who were bullies or bullied by siblings during childhood. The study, the first prospective study of sibling bullying and the development of the psychotic disorder, has found that those involved in sibling bullying- either as victim or bully- were three times more likely to meet criteria for a psychotic disorder.

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Abstract
Background
Being bullied by a sibling has been recently identified as a potential risk factor for developing depression and self-harm. It is unknown whether this risk extends to other serious mental health problems such as psychosis. We investigated whether sibling bullying victimization or perpetration in middle childhood was prospectively associated with psychotic disorder in early adulthood.

Methods
The current study investigated 6988 participants of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a UK community-based birth cohort. Sibling bullying was reported at 12 years and psychotic disorder was assessed via a semi-structured interview at 18 years.

Results
Involvement in sibling bullying was associated with psychotic disorder in a dose-response fashion, even after controlling for a range of confounders. Those involved several times a week were 2–3 times more likely to meet criteria for a psychotic disorder [odds ratio (OR); 95% confidence interval (CI)]: victimization (OR 2.74; CI 1.28–5.87); perpetration (OR 3.16; CI 1.35–7.41). Categorical analysis indicated that particularly victims (OR 3.10; CI 1.48–6.50) and bully-victims (OR 2.66; CI 1.24–5.69) were at increased risk of psychotic disorder. Involvement in both sibling and peer bullying had a dose-effect relationship with a psychotic disorder, with those victimized in both contexts having more than four times the odds for a psychotic disorder (OR 4.57; CI 1.73–12.07).

Conclusion
Parents and health professionals should be aware of the adverse long-term effects of sibling bullying.

The study’s findings, suggest that displaying aggressive behaviors in childhood may be treated as a developmental marker of psychotic disorders in an already vulnerable individual with a tendency towards persistent aggressive behavioral patterns.
This study adds that sibling bullying perpetration, beyond general conduct problems in childhood, is associated with the development of psychotic experiences.

Full reference:

Dantchev, S., Zammit, S. & Wolke, D. |Sibling bullying in middle childhood and psychotic disorder at 18 years: a prospective cohort study| Psychological Medicine | Published online 12 February 2018 | Doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291717003841

The full text journal article can be downloaded here 

Full story at Science Daily 

New research shows the benefit of bullying interventions in schools

Study explores the long-term social and economic impact of effective bullying interventions implemented in primary schools.

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MQ: Transforming Mental Health have published a report which finds that the implementation of evidence-based school bullying interventions could prevent over 24,000 cases of bullying each year.  This would significantly improve the mental health of thousands of young people, and save the UK economy £348 million per year group. This represents a  return on investment for £146 for every £1 invested in implementing a proven model.

The economic model uses data from the 1958 Birth Cohort on outcomes associated with childhood bullying to estimate the potential short- and long-term benefits of effective anti-bullying interventions in schools.

The report highlights that with such clear evidence pointing to the link between bullying and mental illness, it’s vital that schools receive support from both the government and public funding to rollout evidence-based schemes to tackle it.

Full report: The Economic Case for Prevention in Young People’s Mental Health: Bullying Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) | London School of Economics and Political Science | MQ: Transforming Mental Health

Nearly half of young people have experienced cyber bullying

Nearly half of young people aged 11-25 years have experienced threatening, intimidating or nasty messages via social media, email or texts, according to a survey by Young Minds

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Young Minds and The Children’s Society, have carried out a survey of 1,000 children and young people aged 11-25 to hear about their views and experiences of bullying online.

More than a third of young people (37%) said they had experienced online bullying in their lifetime versus 47% of those who had reported offline bullying experiences.

An overwhelming majority of young people surveyed (83%) said that social media companies should do more to tackle cyberbullying on social media.

More than half (59%) of young people had their first social media account at the age of 12, despite guidelines for social media sites stating that you must be 13 years old to have an account.

Nearly half (45%) said they spent more than three hours per day on social media.

The Young Minds inquiry aims to look at what social media companies are doing to tackle such behaviour on their platforms, and whether the industry is going far enough to protect children and young people on their sites.

More detail: An Inquiry into the Impact of Cyberbullying on Social Media on Children and Young People’s Mental Health

The role of family and school-level factors in bullying and cyberbullying

This UK study aims to investigate student-level and school-level characteristics of those who become involved in bullying and cyberbullying behaviours as victims or perpetrators | BMC Pediatrics

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Background: Bullying and cyberbullying are common phenomena in schools. These negative behaviours can have a significant impact on the health and particularly mental health of those involved in such behaviours, both as victims and as bullies.

Conclusions: Bullying victimization and cyberbullying prevalence vary across school type and school quality, supporting the hypothesis that organisational/management factors within the school may have an impact on students’ behaviour. These findings will inform future longitudinal research investigating which school factors and processes promote or prevent bullying and cyberbullying behaviours.

Full reference: Leonardo B. et al. (2017) The role of family and school-level factors in bullying and cyberbullying: a cross-sectional study. BMC Pediatrics. Published: 11 July 2017

Suicide in children and young people linked to bereavement, new report finds

National suicide study also calls for better support for students, internet safety and services for children who self-harm.

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Health Illness (NCISH)  has published Suicide by children and young people: National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness.

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Image source: http://www.hqip.org.uk

This report examines findings from a range of investigations, such as coroner inquests, into the deaths by suicide of people aged under 25 between January 2014 and December 2015 in England and Wales, extracting information about the stresses they were facing when they died.

  • The report emphasises the emotional impact of bereavement on young people and recommends that bereavement support should be widely available.
  • The researchers call on universities to do more to promote mental health on campus and support students who may be at risk.
  • The study identifies the treatment of self-harm as the most important service response in preventing suicide in young people.

Additional link: HQIP press release

Childhood bullying linked to health risks in adulthood

Childhood bullying may lead to long-lasting health consequences, impacting psychosocial risk factors for cardiovascular health well into adulthood, according to a new study.  | via OnMedica

Findings from a study which tracked a diverse group of over 300 American men from first grade through their early thirties indicate that being a victim of bullying and being a bully were both linked to negative outcomes in adulthood.

The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that men who were bullies during childhood were more likely to smoke cigarettes and use marijuana, to experience stressful circumstances, and to be aggressive and hostile at follow-up more than 20 years later. Men who were bullied as children, on the other hand, tended to have more financial difficulties, felt more unfairly treated by others, and were less optimistic about their future two decades later.

These outcomes are especially critical, the researchers note, because they put the men at higher risk for poor health, including serious cardiovascular issues, later in life.

Read more via OnMedica

Full reference: Karen A. Matthews et.al.  Bullying and Being Bullied in Childhood Are Associated With Different Psychosocial Risk Factors for Poor Physical Health in Men.  Psychological Science  First published April-28-2017