7 Reasons Why ADHDers Feel Lonely

ADHD and lonelinessMany adults with ADHD report feeling lonely. Loneliness is a state of mind that makes us feel disconnected from others. Loneliness can make you feel depressed, isolated and more prone to addiction.

7 Reasons Why ADHDers Feel Lonely:

1) Feeling Different From Everyone Else

Having ADHD can be isolating because you are experiencing challenges and frustrations that other people don’t have. You probably have been experiencing these feelings since childhood (even if you didn’t know you had ADHD then). Teachers, fellow pupils, even parents can say and do things that single you out. Feeling ‘different’ continues into adulthood and can make you feel like you are ‘outside looking in’.

2) Social Skills

Some people with ADHD excel socially, but many people really struggle. Feeling shy and anxious, not knowing the ‘right’ thing to say or do in social settings is common among adults with ADHD. Small talk feels awkward. It’s hard to pick up on social cues (i.e. someone backing away, indicating they want to end the conversation though you follow them to the door); or impulsively saying the ‘wrong’ thing or over-thinking social interactions afterwards.

3) People Think You Don’t Care

Friends and family mistake your ADHD behaviour to mean you don’t care about them. Even though that isn’t true, classic ADHD behaviour such as arriving late, forgetting to call, missing birthdays and forgetting what people told you, result in hurt feelings. So, people think it’s because you don’t care.

4) Worthiness

In order to have people in your life, you have to feel worthy and deserving of friendship and loving relationships. People with ADHD often have low self-esteem and confidence and so, don’t feel they deserve good quality relationships.

5) Making New Friends is Challenging

Making new friends can be challenging when you have ADHD. If you have met someone you get on with, it can be hard to transition that to friendship. It is usually due to one or a combination of: following through, social skills and feeling worthy that someone would want to spend time with you.

6) People Are Critical

If you find that you are disappointing people, or that people are always mad with you, it can feel easier to not bother and just do your own thing.

7) Depression and Other Comorbid Conditions

Depression and other comorbid conditions that are common with ADHD, such as anxiety and addiction, all increase the chances of feeling lonely.

Now that we know why ADHDers feel lonely, it’s important to develop strategies to overcome that feeling. Feeling lonely has serious health repercussions. For example, blood pressure increases, less inclined to look after our health, making unhealthy eating choices, as well as less likely to exercise. Cognitive functions deteriorate, immune system weaken, addictions increase, which increases depression further.

1) Join a support group or hang out where other ADHDers hang out. They understand you in a way that no one else can. One client reported feeling like she ‘had come home’ when she joined an ADHD group, and met fellow ADDers for the first time.

2) See a therapist to work on issues from the past and unsolved hurts in childhood.

3) Work with your ADHD coach or therapist, to develop strategies for social skills and increase self-esteem.

4) If you have depression, visit your medical doctor. It is harder to implement these suggestions when you have untreated depression.

5) Let people who you are close with know how ADHD shows up for you. So for example, if / when you do forget what they said, they know it’s not because you don’t care. This isn’t using ADHD as an excuse, its helping people to understand you.

6) Spend time with people that have big hearts and aren’t critical.

7) Watch Brené Brown’s video on ‘feeling worthy of love’.

8) If you like to read, check out loneliness expert, John Cacioppo’s book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection.

Do you ever feel lonely? Leave a note in the comments section.



  1. I am 16 and ever since I was little i was very shy. I couldn’t talk talk to people unless I cover my face in my parents clothes. But I have that habit again but I still but not to all that again. But the children my age would normally trouble me about how different I am an because of that I grow up with a low self esteem but the people around wouldn’t notice it.My mother and my friends would say I have a don’t care attitude and that I don’t care about anyone but myself because of this I am losing my friends one by one. And sometimes I am wondering if something is wrong with me.

  2. Kadua says:

    I am relating

  3. Quinn says:

    For me I feel like i’m always lonely and that whenever I try to start a conversation i’m going to mess up or just completely fail. Even when I know that my friends are there for me i’m just afraid to talk to anyone. And because of that i’m always coming down on myself but when I think i’m able to talk to someone I just feel the exact same thoughts again. But this usually happens to people I care about a lot. Like my two best friends are the ones i’m the most scared to talk to sometimes.

  4. Bobby says:


    Thank you for this article. It sounds like I’m relatively lucky in how I’ve developed as I have many normal skills. I see myself as intelligent, loving, and caring. I’m naturally an introvert, so I spend lots of time alone. Unfortunately I have a tendency to be reserved and not talk to people, though I never really have a problem if I need to do so. Unfortunately I’m not doing well at making many friends at college. Currently, I assume this is because of my low opinion of the people going here (it’s a community college so the barrier of entry is pretty low), though I never assume someone’s capabilities. I feel so alone, I only have two friends from high school and I feel like even they are slipping away. I also feel like my parents don’t understand me, and typically don’t want to hear what I have to say about things, like they don’t want to get to know me. After a whole semester at one college, and now almost done with this semester at community college, I only made one new friend. I feel like I’m too needy or clingy, and have even been told that explicitly (though I did ask a friend what was up with ghosting me, that was fair game). It’s not that I’m listening to this friend, but I have started to pick out how often I want to text somebody, or feel the need to make a connection deeper, often feeling like it was a bit too early afterwards. My passion for what I believe in can often be off putting to people too, and I seem to take matters more seriously than others. I’m not sure what to do, and I’m feeling like I have no deep bonds with anyone at all except my family’s dog now. Any ideas on what I should do, or if these things are normal?

  5. Nik says:

    I think I have ADHD. My memory power is extremly bad. I could never remember my phone number for over a year.

    Emotionally I think i am a hardened soul.People around in my company keep feeling bad when a bad news breaks out. I don’t feel anything when I hear it.

    I have lots of ideas in my mind how to present something but when it comes to writing or speaking it all ends in few words.

    I am extremly shy to the point I avoid social gatherings.

    I always feel like I am a rebel to the world.

    I always think my memory and my maturity is about 5 to 10 years behind

  6. Connie gauthier says:

    Well hearing this makes me feel a little better. I used to cry when u was around 12 when my mom left for work. I feel I can’t go on. I HATE my life. I just want to sleep. I’m on add anti depressants and anti anxiety meds. I still feel lonely because I isolate myself. I have a fear of being anyone but have anxiety being socially

  7. Annie says:

    I have recently been dignozed with Adult Add and for the past 3 years have been trying to make friends in a church environment. Left due to the fact that even in a church environment people wouldn’t even talk to me in the coffee cue. How do i make friends as and adult with add have one good friend but dont want to wear them out.

    • Hi Annie
      Sorry to hear you are having problems making friends. There are nice people everywhere, not just in the places you think nice people should be, like church. Sign up for clubs and groups that you are interested in. Toastmasters is always a great place because you can learn a skill at the same time. Also a sports activity, like running, or martial arts. Try lots of new things. It is nice to have 1 special friend, however I would recommend having a few special people. As we get older, people have busier lives, so less time to spend with friends. If you have a handful of close friends and one is busy, another will be available.

  8. anthony says:

    i personally do not have adhd however both my best friends do. one friend of 15 yrs and her son who also has adhd. my other best m8, were now into our 7 th year and he has to be the most loyal trusting friend ive ever had. i myself am a easy going 41 year old male who has the patience of a saint and never gets bored of listening to what my friends have to say. even if it means i dont get to say anything. im not going to say its been easy all the time, but then neither is life.

  9. Shelldahn says:

    Thanks Jacqueline for your response. I suppose I simply wanted to express that frustration. Thanks for the advice! Sometimes it helps to have someone pull you out of your own head.

  10. Ryan says:

    I am 24 years old and have felt in a constant battle with my emotions for many years. Most of all though I’ve always felt ignored or uninteresting. Like my voice isn’t heard or people don’t want to hear it. Until around a couple of years ago I had always had a group of friends. When talking to them though I feel I say either strange or uninteresting things that make them want to end the conversation with me. I felt it was always me asking them to hang out and rarely getting asked in return.
    Now I spend most of my days alone in my room. I have a girlfriend, though she is in another country. We talk everyday (either on the phone/Skype and play online games together) and we now have plans for me to move there with her soon. During this relationship I have always found myself being so careful about saying things on my mind. Is it interesting? Am I just talking crap? Is she even listening?
    If I let my mouth run I’ll talk about 100 different subjects in one breath. I don’t allow myself to do that anymore because every time I have I find people quickly wanting to move the conversation onto something else. My girlfriend does listen to me even when I feel she isn’t. She is the only person in my whole life I have felt I can really talk to. I am worried about moving to her country though as I have such low confidence I’ll be able to find friends who will want to be with me.
    Right now I feel like I’m rambling a lot and many times I’ve glanced over this text thinking “why would I post this rubbish?” I could go on for hours and hours, but what I’m looking for here is advice on a direction I should seek to hopefully get me on a path to helping me stop feeling this way, and becoming more confident in myself to feel like a normal human being and not an emotional mess.

  11. Shelldahn says:

    Hi Jacqui,
    Thanks for the post, but I’d like to express a frustration- not necessarily with you, but with advice given about mental health in general:
    The advice I always seem to find about my ADHD and other mental health problems usually say “go to a therapist”.

    But where does that leave a person who can’t afford one? I can’t afford a personal therapist and have been bounced around in short- term therapies in public and university programs. And the strings of sessions always end before I feel any progress has been made. I am left feeling more like a failure that I could not get things sorted out within my allotted sessions. What if a person only was allowed a certain number of visits from a medical doctor, regardless of they were healed or not?

    And what I have been told is I need to decide how important my mental health “really” is to me, as though somehow, my inability to pay for private sessions is simply poor financial management and not the bad economy, or unfair minimum wages. I had to get a personal loan to even seek a diagnosis from a psychologist. I was so worried he’d say I didn’t have ADHD, meaning I would have just spent money unnecessarily.

    I’m trying to get it together, but the system right now is so frustrating.
    Any advice on that?

    • Hi Shelldahn

      Sorry to hear that you are feeling frustrated about advice that includes therapy. Whenever I write a list of tips to help a situation or problem I don’t think every reader will try every suggestion. Instead people pick the ones that resonate or are possible for them.
      Not everyone will see a therapist, perhaps because of budget reasons, or because they hate the thought of therapy. In which case the other suggestions will be more appealing them.

      I totally understand how annoying it must be to want to have therapy yet not be able to find a way to get it. Many therapists offer a sliding scale so that they can help motivated people like you. So even though you are frustrated keep looking!
      In the meantime why not find a ADHD support group in your area? They are usually free and very helpful. Also, the people there might be able to help your with your therapy problem. If you are struggling, then other people will have faced the same problem too.

  12. Nikki says:

    Wow, this is spot on, my life and daily struggles. I have alienated myself from the world for years. I have always had issues making friends. I am 28 now and still have no friends. I do chat with people at work. But that’s about it. I think my dogs are my best friends. They don’t judge me and love me for who I am. I am also a mother of a 10 year old. I have cause her to miss out on things because of my ADHD! Sad, but out if my control. It seems like people thing I can control who I am and my actions. I can’t. I’m late because I can’t judge my time correctly. I’m disorganized because I let things pile up. Then, when I try to organize, I become overwhelmed and walk away. I avoid going to that area because it overwhelms me. I am OCD and feel as though I suffer from depression at times. I hate loud noises, big crowds, small spaces, anything moving or making noises when I’m TRYING to focus. I can’t remember anything anymore. I have issues waking up in the morning without help. This has caused me to miss promotions at work. I’ve seen my doctor about this too. Nothing has been done yet. I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 11. I have two older brothers who are extremely smart. Both went to college. One of my brothers graduated high school with honors, went to UT in Austin, then joined the Navy and has been there for 7 years. He is about to have his masters degree in the medical field. My other brother went to college and is running the family business. Then you have me. I struggled in school. Even with meds. It wasn’t just my brain struggling. Teachers didn’t give the extra help my brain needed. So, I didn’t get to far after high school. Neither of my brothers have ADHD. Just me. I feel jealous at times because I wasn’t born the same as them. The great side of ADHD is my creative brain. I love crafts and am always working on a project. Thought I would share my story. I could go on for hours. ☺️

  13. Jamie says:

    I am a textbook example of ADHD and was diagnosed as a child. I know that I never fit it as a child, and being left out at recess and social settings has severely messed up my self esteem in adulthood. I am 33 and I feel like the older I get the worse I have gotten at making conversations. I usually say something slightly inappropriate or awkward, or so random that I can sense right away that people around me don’t want to keep up a conversation with me. Often times, I notice some signs that the person I am speaking to is getting tired of me, but sometimes I am so impulsive that everything I am thinking has to come out of my mouth right now. Sometimes if an attractive guy is being friendly, I become so awkward because I am afraid I start speaking to them too much as they are giving me a slight bit of attention. I get so stressed about being awkward in social situations that I often dread them, and I seem to prefer to be alone nowadays. To make things worse, both of my children have ADHD, and one of my children are extremely impulsive and seems to have the energy of a hyper squirrel 24/7. I fear that they will face being alone as I have most of my entire life. I did learn coping strategies, but I still get nervous on the inside when someone notices me in a crowd as I wonder if I must have a giant booger hanging from my nose or something. However, in reality they probably think I am totally spacing out during staff meetings or won’t stop fidgeting..haha..Oh the joys of being ADHD!!

  14. Jason says:

    Hi Jacqui. I can most definitely relate to this post. I enjoy spending time alone, but I can also feel alone in a crowded room. Not many “get” me. I remember in my last job, I would often come up with new ideas that were exciting to me and feeling so lonely when I realized that I would be lucky if one other person would listen, and even luckier if they understood and appreciated it. I feel this way with my wife too, though her patient ear and encouragement are helpful, even though she doesn’t always follow me. Thank you for writing this.

  15. Dean says:

    hit the nail on the head – went to neurologist today and confirmed ADHD – I am 54 years old – all symptoms are classic. I type into Google “ADHD” – then symptoms I have experienced all my life & every single one hits me like a train head-on. Had been misdiagnosed with bi-polar, depression, etc. in the past. Went to countless counseling associated with my job for years on end – everyone, including myself, missed it…thank you for writing this article

  16. Angela says:

    I can totally relate to this, I am turning 49 next week and have been seeing a great psychologist who has supported me to find out what is wrong with me I have now been to a psychiatrist who has diagnosed me with Adhd traits not a full diagnosis of adhd because I can not present evidence of my ADHD as a child, I am now on Strattera which has made some major breakthroughs in my life. I always remember feeling different and very lonely as a child and even now I still struggle with friendships and my marriage even though I am outgoing my inner monolog is my main critic and companion.

  17. michael says:

    This article describes me to the letter! I am on the path to discovering my problems and I’m so glad i found this information. I have been dealing with these symptoms since childhood and just thought this is the way i am. Addiction has been a huge part of my life and have been on the brink of giving up many times even after completing successfully a suboxone treatment program. I am off of the medication now and my symptoms have really become more noticeable especially at work. I’m distant from my family which kills me. I have the opportunity to take the T.O.V.A. test but worry it will be used to say i don’t have an issue when i know i do. Its nice to k ow its not the end all for diagnosis. Thank you!

  18. Becky says:

    While I struggle with all of these to some degree, my biggest issue is with making new friends, or transitioning acquaintances to friends. Having moved to a new city as an adult, I have no established circle of friends. There are co-workers and other people who I’ve met who I’d like to become friends with, but the onus seems to be on me to come up with something casual that I can invite them out to do, that would be mutually enjoyable and hopefully non-awkward (since I don’t have a group of friends to invite them out with), and to figure out a time that we both are available to do this. It all seems so hard and overwhelming that I am more likely to just sit at home and hide in a computer game, or something… My city is kind of large and sprawling, which just makes it more difficult. I think it would be weird to ask someone out just for a coffee or something if they would have to drive any distance. I’d feel like they’d think a friendship would just be an inconvenience.

    • Hi Becky
      It does take effort to make new friends, and also you have to put yourself ‘out there’ and risk rejection. If you are concerned about asking people to drive a long way, why not suggest to do something directly after work? that way you are both already in the same place. There a lot of lonely people out there. So rather than feeling like your friendship is an inconvenience why not flip it around in your mind and think of your friendship as blessing in someone’s life. Just as their friendship to you would be. If someone is busy etc they will say. So don’t feel you are putting anyone out.

  19. MARC PRIMEAU says:

    i can totally associate with the lonliness, i recently went to a convention where they had a reception afterwards .i noticed feeling totally alone in a room of over 300 people. either feeling too ackward to talk to anyone or too afraid.

    • Hi Marc! those types of events ARE very hard!! Its not just a you thing. Most people find them a challenge. However there are some things you can do to improve your skills and comfort level in this type of situation in the future.
      There is a book called ‘How To Win Friends and Influence people’ it has tons are great suggestions. Highly recommend it! if you don’t like to read you could listen to it instead.
      You could also join Toastmasters. There are chapters all over the world. They help you to speak in public, and think on your feet, and much more. It will boast your confidence in all areas of life, not including being in a room of 300 people.
      Let me know how you get on!!

  20. Brisk Walker says:

    Letting people down, if only through misunderstandings, is hard to overcome. Maybe it’s easier than it seems, but doing or own thing our own way is even easier. I can justify it in my own mind, but it leads to further isolation. Im ok with that, but I’m supposed to be a leader. Not good.

    • Hi Brisk!
      Yes you are right, sometimes it is easier to do to things your own way than navigate social minefields.
      I think the trick is to balance the 2. For example at work and with the people you really love its worth going the extra mile to avoid misunderstands. Then at other times do your own thing.
      Avoiding misunderstandings can be a lot easier than it seems. You might ask say something like ‘Just so I understand your correctly…..’ and then summarize what your take away from the conversation was. I find myself saying ‘so just to recap’ a lot! but its helpful for me and the other person.

      Let me know if you have any more questions! its a really big topic!

  21. Marcia says:

    Great post, Jacqui! I totally relate to #3, “people think you don’t care.” That’s a zinger.

    • Hi Marcia
      Glad you liked the post. That really hurts when you think people don’t care…when actually you care very much.

  22. Val Charman says:

    Hi Jacqui

    I can totally relate to the ‘outside looking in’ thing and the over thinking social interactions. These days, though, I have stopped beating myself up about it and realise that other people probably had a different view of the events anyway 🙂

    x x x


    • Hi Val
      That is such a great attitude!!!!! So happy to hear you don’t beat yourself up any more. That is huge!! great job!!

  23. Jamie says:

    I’ve always felt lonely since childhood. I remember being really shy (and still am) and being the kid who stood alone by the fence at recess. I have trouble socializing with people (other than facebook) and picking up on social cues. If I’m around a group of people talking, I don’t know what to say and just zone out into my own little world. I have always been a loner and relationships have never work out. People usually don’t last long with me and complain that I don’t pay attention or don’t care.

    • Hi Jamie,
      Sorry to hear you have been feeling lonely since childhood. A lot of adults with ADHD have problems interacting with people and as you have experienced it can result in feeling very lonely. Learning social skills is one of those things that we are sort of expected to naturally know how to do. We aren’t taught how to do in formally in school.
      Shyness is also connected to low self esteem and fear.
      A great way to connect with other people is to find an activities you really and join a group around that activity. For example if you like to run, rather than going running on your own, join a running club. Its much easier to connect with people this way because then there isn’t the pressure to talk because you have a shared activity to ‘do’. Also you have know that you have at least one thing in common with all those people.


  24. Ghazal says:

    I’ve felt lonly through out my life . Every second of it and I’m really tierd of it . I’m posting this comment cuz I don’t really know what to do anymore
    Been so lonly that I talk to myself cuz I need someone to hear me out but there’s no one but me

    • Sorry to hear you feel lonely Ghazal. One suggestion to feel less lonely is to find some people like you, you will totally get you without you even having to say anything.
      Is there an ADHD support group in your area? in addition to that, why not come over the the Untapped brilliance facebook page? there are lots of lovely people there. Those would be a good start.

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