Adults with ADHD may experience lower self-esteem than adults without ADHD, that can be addressed, at least in part, by behavioural therapies, a recent systematic review reports.
The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between self-esteem and ADHD in adulthood with a view to identifying needs and potential opportunities in terms of service provision. To this end, 13 articles were systematically identified from 12 databases in the literature (1980–2013).
Despite the limited number of studies, of which some were associated with methodological concerns, the authors found evidence that adults with ADHD may experience lower self-esteem, relative to controls. Social skills were found to be a significant predictor of self-esteem in those with ADHD and self-esteem was found to be important in discriminating between those with ADHD and those without in studies examining predictors of group membership. Self-esteem was also found to partially mediate between ADHD symptoms, adjustment to college and aspects of test anxiety. One study indicated that lower self-esteem was also associated with higher psychological distress in adults with ADHD.
These findings emphasise the influence ADHD has on the everyday life of adults with the disorder and highlight potential treatment considerations. These include cognitive behaviour therapy and cognitive remediation therapy, both of which were found to show some efficacy in relation to self-esteem improvement. Furthermore, these findings suggest that it would be beneficial to assess the self-esteem of adult patients with ADHD and to try to more inclusively tackle this aspect of ADHD through future service provision. Additional studies are required to further investigate the relationship between self-esteem and ADHD, and possible interventions to address difficulties with self-esteem.
Cook J, Knight E, Hume I, et al. The self-esteem of adults diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a systematic review of the literature. Atten Defic Hyperact Disord. 2014; 6: 249-268.