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A recent study published in Journal of Attention Disorders reveals that young people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience significantly higher levels of loneliness than their peers, highlighting a critical aspect of the disorder that has been previously overlooked. The study also found a strong association between loneliness and mental health issues.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is widely known for its symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Many studies focus on problematic functioning with peers, but the social and emotional challenges faced by those with ADHD, particularly loneliness, have not been as thoroughly examined.

Loneliness, defined as “subjective feeling of distress due to a perceived deficit in the quantity and quality of one’s social relationships”, is linked to both mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.

As both ADHD and loneliness are both associated with concerning health outcomes, a team from King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London sought to investigate the extent of loneliness in young individuals with ADHD and its impact on mental health.

Led by Angelina Jong, the researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis, which involved rigorously analyzing data from multiple studies to assess the prevalence of loneliness in individuals below 25 years of age. Their methodology involved searching through six major electronic databases and applying statistical tools to combine and compare results from 20 different research papers.

The results from 15 studies revealed that young people with ADHD reported feeling significantly lonelier than those without the disorder. This data was obtained from studies conducted across 8 countries – mostly Western countries and Israel – where 1,253 ADHD participants and 5,028 non-ADHD participants were analyzed.

“One possible factor that might explain the increased loneliness in young people with ADHD compared to their peers could be the greater peer rejection and social difficulties experienced… [It] may also relate to feeling different,” Jong and colleagues hypothesize.

Moreover, upon analyzing 781 young people with ADHD across 8 studies, the study found a significant association between loneliness and mental health issues – including depression and anxiety.

“Given the possible mental health problems associated with loneliness in ADHD, reducing loneliness may not only decrease the distress but may also positively impact other aspects of mental health.”

While the study provides valuable insights, it also acknowledges limitations such as the high variability in study designs, the inconsistency in the reporting of participant demographics across the studies, as well as a larger proportion of males included.

The study, “Loneliness in Young People with ADHD: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, was authored by Angelina Jong, Clarissa Mary Odoi, Jennifer Lau, and Matthew J. Hollocks.

Do you think you may suffer from ADHD and live in Florida, California or New York?

If so, please consider scheduling a proper virtual online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis with one of our physicians. Although we have an online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis tool, a proper diagnosis from a Board-Certified Medical Doctor will help you know for sure. If appropriate, a customized treatment program will be recommended at the conclusion of that initial visit.

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