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article imageOnline bullying, sexting causes teen depression, anxiety, suicide

By Marcus Hondro     May 12, 2015 in Internet
The number of teens seeking help for depression and anxiety disorders is on the rise and health officials in the U.K. believe it may be due to sexting and online bullying. A mental health group there reports more teens experiencing problems online.
Sexting and online bullying
The Priory Group, a U.K. mental health organization that runs hospitals and clinics, reports the numbers of teens seeking help there are steadily climbing. The Daily Mail wrote in a recent article that last year "262 girls and boys aged 12 to 17 were admitted to one of its centres with severe depression or anxiety, up from 178 in 2010."
Many young persons report abuse occurs after sexting, a online phenomenon in which a person takes a selfie while naked or semi-naked and publishes it online. The comments that follow can be brutal, many commenters remarking about weight or other aspects of the sender's body.
Such remarks are particularly haŕd for teens, especially females, to be subjected to. And yet they often continue to post after a barrage of criticism has been directed at them, therapists say, wanting to be part of the group and often hoping to meet a special someone.
Therapists believe sexting and the bullying that can folow it is contributing to depression and anxiety in teens. Dr. Natasha Bijlani is a psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital in Roehampton, South-West London, and she told the Daily Mail that sexting and online bullying will lead to an even higher numbers of teens with depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues and self-harming issues.
"This relatively new phenomenon of sexting, where explicit texts and pictures are sent between smartphone devices, seems to have become endemic, and we are not sure of the long-term consequences," Dr. Bijlani said.
"However, coupled with online bullying, we can expect an increasing number of people suffering issues of trust, shame, and self-loathing, sometimes manifesting itself in self-harming."
Teenagers online
One of the sites that young people use is called ask.fm and it has been blamed for contributing to the suicide deaths of four teens in England and Ireland . Teens post a photo or question there and others respond to it, anonymously. Some of those responses are unkind in the extreme.
The site has over 60 million users and now as an advisory up saying that it is under new "leadership" and that they are "committed to making its service a much safer and more positive place for everyone."
That is doubtless welcome news for therapists like Dr. Bijlani, who said that it is not simply in the now that bullying affects young persons. She said it is in the now and in the hereafter, that bullying can become a mental health issue throughout life.
"The long-term effects of bullying can be prolonged and pervasive. Much more focus needs to be given to how best to educate young people about the risks of sending compromising images, and communicating with unknown others online, and how to cope with bullying via devices at school.
"Episodes in childhood are often repressed and only later in life do these issues surface in the form of depression, stress and anxiety and other serious psychological conditions."
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