The article “Trajectories of Loneliness During Adolescence Predict Subsequent Symptoms of Depression and Positive Wellbeing” by Simon C. Hunter and colleagues delves into a comprehensive longitudinal study that tracks the evolution of loneliness during adolescence and its implications on mental health, specifically depression and positive wellbeing. The study involved 1782 adolescents who were approximately 12.92 years old at the start, and it monitored them across four data collection points over a span of two years.

Central to the study is the distinction between two dimensions of loneliness: Isolation Loneliness, which pertains to the feeling of being socially isolated, and Friendship Loneliness, which focuses on the perceived quality and quantity of one’s friendships. The study mapped out several trajectories for these dimensions of loneliness, identifying four distinct paths for Isolation Loneliness and five for Friendship Loneliness, such as Low Stable, Elevated Stable, Low Increasing, and High Decreasing for Isolation Loneliness, and High Stable, Average Stable, High Decreasing, Average Increasing, and Low Increasing for Friendship Loneliness.

The findings of the study revealed significant insights into how these trajectories impact adolescent mental health. Adolescents who maintained a Low Stable trajectory in Isolation Loneliness generally reported fewer symptoms of depression and experienced better overall wellbeing. Conversely, those who found themselves in High Decreasing or Low Increasing trajectories for either dimension of loneliness exhibited worsening mental health indicators. Particularly, increases in Isolation Loneliness and decreases in Friendship Loneliness were consistently associated with adverse mental health outcomes, including increased symptoms of depression.

The implications of these findings are profound. The study not only underscores the importance of understanding the dynamic nature of loneliness in shaping mental health outcomes but also highlights the need for early interventions tailored to these loneliness trajectories. By recognizing that both increasing and decreasing patterns of loneliness can significantly influence an adolescent’s psychological adjustment and mental wellbeing, the study advocates for strategies that are responsive to the nuances of these experiences.

In conclusion, Hunter and colleagues’ research provides valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of loneliness during adolescence and its far-reaching effects on mental health. It emphasizes the necessity for targeted interventions that address these patterns early on, aiming to mitigate the negative trajectories of loneliness before they solidify into more severe mental health issues. This study not only advances our understanding of loneliness but also serves as a call to action for more nuanced and proactive approaches to youth mental health.


Hunter, S. C., Seth, R., Houghton, S., Lawrence, D., Zadow, C., Rosenberg, M., . . . Shilton, T. (2024). Trajectories of loneliness during adolescence predict subsequent symptoms of depression and positive wellbeing. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 53(5), 1078-1090. doi: