Loneliness accounts for the association between diagnosed Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder and symptoms of depression among adolescents

Stephen Houghton, David Lawrence, Simon C. Hunter, Corinne Zadow, Michael Kyron, Roger Paterson, Annemaree Carroll, Richard Christie, Mark Brandtman

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The heightened levels of peer relationship difficulties associated with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) potentially predispose adolescents to feelings of loneliness and depressive symptoms. The current study explores whether feelings of loneliness mediate the effects of ADHD on depressive symptoms. Eighty-four adolescents (Mage = 13.01 years, 75% Male) in Western Australian schools completed mental health and wellbeing surveys. Multivariate analysis of variance assessed whether adolescents with ADHD had greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, and mediation analysis explored whether loneliness mediated the relationship between ADHD and depressive symptoms. Adolescents with ADHD reported significantly greater depressive symptomatology and feelings of isolation and lower quality of friendships. Together, friendship and isolation related loneliness fully mediated the relationship between ADHD and depressive symptoms. Loneliness is associated with depression in adolescents with ADHD and may be an important consideration when addressing symptoms of depression among young people diagnosed with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-247
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Issue number2
Early online date31 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • loneliness
  • ADHD
  • depression
  • adolescence

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