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Workplace Bullying Victims at Risk of Depression, Anxiety

Update Date: Dec 13, 2012 12:52 PM EST

While many of us think that bullying is something only school children deal with, the reality is that bullying can take place practically anywhere, at any age. It could be your colleague or boss bullying you at the workplace and unlike children who physically abuse their classmates, words and actions may be used against one to intimidate their victims.

But let it be a colleague or a boss, no one should be making you uncomfortable at the workplace.  Working in such a kind of environment or suffering through such a situation increases one's risk of being prescribed antidepressants, sleeping pills and tranquillizers, finds a new study.

According to the study, workplace bullying not only brings down the productivity of the employees, but also causes poor mental health. However, it is unclear if it translates into a greater need for drug treatment, and if the impact is the same for the victims and the witnesses.

For the study, the researchers quizzed 6,606 public service employees in Finland about their experiences with workplace bullying, both as a witness and as a victim. All the participants were aged between 40 and 60.

The findings revealed that one in 20 employees said they were being bullied currently, while one in five women and one in eight men reported being bullied before. While about half of the participants reported being witness to bullying at workplace occasionally, one in 10 said they witnessed it often.

Further, the researchers found that workplace bullying could be associated with subsequent prescriptions for psychoactive drugs in employees, irrespective of their gender.

However, women victims of bullying were found to be 50 percent more vulnerable than men when it came to drug usage for the same. Even in the case of being a witness to bullying, the results were somewhat similar, with women being 53 percent more likely to be prescribed a psychoactive drug.

In the research, the scientists had considered factors like previous medication for mental health issues, childhood bullying, social class and weight, but the results remained the same.

"Workplace bullying needs to be tackled proactively in an effective way to prevent its adverse consequences for mental health," the authors conclude.

The research was published in BMJ Open. 

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