Bullying: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 3/16/2021

Bullying refers to physical or verbal aggression that is repeated over a period of time and, in contrast to meanness, involves an imbalance of power. Bullying is common among children and adolescents and seeks to exclude the victim from a group. Bullying can also occur among adults.

Signs and symptoms of someone who is being bullied can include

  • missing belongings,
  • unexplained injuries,
  • having a limited number of friends,
  • declining grades, or
  • being self-destructive.

Physical ailments may also be related to bullying, such as

Other associated symptoms might include

  • irritability,
  • anxiety,
  • sadness,
  • trouble sleeping,
  • frequent nightmares,
  • tiredness in the mornings,
  • loneliness,
  • helplessness,
  • feeling isolated,
  • avoiding social situations,
  • getting to school or work late,
  • taking off more days,
  • skipping school without telling the parents,
  • running away from home, or
  • suicidal thoughts.

Cause of bullying

Bullying seems to be caused by a need to get and keep control over someone else.

Other bullying symptoms and signs

  • Anxiety
  • Avoiding Social Situations
  • Bedwetting
  • Being Self-Destructive
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Declining Grades
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling Isolated
  • Frequent Nightmares
  • General Aches and Pains
  • Getting to School or Work Late
  • Having a Limited Number of Friends
  • Headaches
  • Helplessness
  • Irritability
  • Loneliness
  • Missing Belongings
  • Running Away from Home
  • Sadness
  • Skipping School Without Telling the Parents
  • Stomachaches
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Taking Off More Days
  • Tiredness in the Mornings
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Unexplained Injuries


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.