Many 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.
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
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.