Adult bullying can contribute to a toxic work environment and may feed into criminal behaviors like assault. Becoming the victim of a bully can damage a person’s career, especially if the bully is a supervisor.
“Cyberbullying” refers to a similar pattern of intimidating behavior brought online. It happens most frequently among young people on social media platforms and mobile apps. However, organized online harassment and “trolling” can be considered forms of bullying.
Bullying can have serious psychological consequences. This is true whether or not individual episodes are intense or violent. It can also affect any person. Some groups, like LGBT and racial minorities, are more frequently targeted at any age.
Bullied children are more likely to suffer chronic mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Severe bullying can result in conditions including PTSD or development of fears and phobias, like social anxiety or agoraphobia.
Stress, loss of confidence, and sleep disturbances are common results for bullied adults. Since cyberbullying can leave a person of any age afraid of its future consequences, it also has a major negative effect on quality of life.
Clinical research on bullying focuses on reducing its impact. Bullying research can be thought of as part of research on trauma. For example, prolonged trauma can result in brain changes that make it harder to regulate emotions or organize long-term effort.
Therapies for bullying victims range from medications to counseling.
In clinical studies on bullying, new medications are being pioneered. These may help victims adapt to stressful situations and enhance the effect of counseling. Counseling is aimed at giving victims a greater sense of personal agency and emotional resilience.
In some cases, as when a workplace has been heavily compromised by bullying, it may be necessary for an adult victim to leave that environment as part of safeguarding mental health. Online habits can also be adjusted to improve well-being.