Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)



First Advisor

Marc N. Potenza


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common condition that frequently persists into adulthood. Yet, diagnostic criteria for ADHD may not fully reflect how the condition presents in adults. Adults with ADHD have unmet needs and have been found to struggle with interpersonal relationships and stigma about their diagnoses. Online communities are frequently used by adults with ADHD and may be an avenue for building relationships and managing symptoms. We aimed to use qualitative methods to better understand the symptomatology of ADHD in young adults, how young adults with ADHD navigate relationships, the perceived impacts of ADHD online communities, and what adults with ADHD wished the medical community understood about the condition. A series of nine online focus groups involving young adults (aged 18-35 years, N = 43) recruited from online communities for people with ADHD were conducted. Data were analyzed using an interpretive phenomenological analysis approach. Participants reported ADHD symptoms not captured by current diagnostic criteria including attentional and emotional dysregulation, struggles with building relationships with those without ADHD, benefits and drawbacks of ADHD online communities, desires for increased education about ADHD for providers, and thoughts for how ADHD could be reconceptualized by the medical community. Increased awareness of the lived experiences of young adults with ADHD may inform future diagnostic criteria, assist those with ADHD build community in both personal and online spaces, and help providers meet this population’s needs individually and structurally.


This thesis is restricted to Yale network users only. It will be made publicly available on 05/22/2026