Meds and you

04 July 2007

Bullied teens take pain-killers

Adolescents who are victims of bullying are likely to take more medications than their peers.

Bullied teens take pain-killers

Adolescents who are victims of bullying are likely to take more medications than their peers, a Danish study shows.

"We fear that this early use of medicine as a coping mechanism, when feeling pressured in their lives, can lead an unhealthy pattern of medicine use in the adult lives of these children," study leader Dr. Pernille Due of the Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen told Reuters Health.

In an anonymous survey, some 5,200 students aged 11 to 16 from a random sample of schools in Denmark provided information on health problems, medicine use, bullying and a range of psychological and social conditions.

Half experienced bullying

Roughly half of the students had experienced bullying within the current school term, according to a report in the journal Paediatrics.

Exposure to bullying was associated not only with an increased occurrence of headache, stomach-ache, nervousness and trouble sleeping, but also with increased use of drugs to treat these symptoms.

Adolescent victims of bullying used medicine for pains and psychological problems more often than adolescents who were not bullied.

The most commonly used medications were for treating headache. In "understandable numbers," Due said, "our results show that among adolescents in general, about 40 percent use medicines for headache on a monthly basis, while among children who are bullied, more that 60 percent use medicine monthly -- which means that two thirds of bullied children use medicines against headache on a monthly basis.

Bullied children have more symptoms

Bullying is "terribly deteriorating" for children's lives, Due noted, and its been shown in a previous international study with 28 countries from Europe and North America that children have a much higher risk for a wide range of symptoms if they are bullied.

"We expected these symptoms to account for the higher use of medicine among adolescents who are bullied, but our analyses showed that even after we have taken these children's much higher risk of symptoms into account, they are still at a much increased risk of using medicine," she pointed out.

The current study, the authors conclude, highlights yet another reason to take steps to prevent bullying - namely, "to avoid harmful patterns of excess medicine use among adolescents." – (Reuters)

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