Bullying has become an uncontrollable problem despite the many ways it can damage one on an emotional, physical, behavioral, and psychological level. The effects of bullying are not limited to one’s present but are long-lasting. Bullying leaves one with a cracked self-esteem, at the risk of resorting to substance abuse, and even suicide. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here.

A new research by researchers and colleagues at the King’s College London, United Kingdom shows the awful impacts that bullying has on the mental health of individuals. Published in the molecular Psychiatry journal, this study shows how the brains of the victims of bullying get altered overtime and how being harassed makes a person more susceptible to anxiety.

For the purpose of this experiment, questionnaires and brain scans of 600 participants were analyzed when they were aged 14 and 19. These participants were all a part of the IMAGEN initiative and came from different parts of Europe. The results of the analysis showed that 30 of them had faced consistent bullying. Consequently, at 19 years of age, their brain’s volume had altered, and they exhibited anxiety as well.

As per the findings, two parts of the brain had decreased in size, the caudate and the putamen. Both of these regions of the brain are linked to one’s learning abilities. This explains why participants experienced anxiety as an outcome of consistent bullying. Apart from this, a previous research also shows that those who bully and those who get bullied both face an increased risk of developing depression.

However, it must be noted that those who are the victims of bullying are at a higher risk than the bullies. Furthermore, those who are both the bullies and the bullied are likely to develop a different, higher form of depression. Hence, it is crucial to take steps to eradicate bullying and protect youngsters from the its harmful effects.