Avoidant Personality Disorder

What is avoidant personality disorder?

People with avoidant personality disorder feel shy all through their lives. They feel as though they are inadequate and they do not handle rejection well. Avoidant personality disorder can manifest as psychiatric symptoms that will interfere with relationship and with work.

Avoidant personality disorder
Photo Credit: WikiHow

Symptoms of avoidant personality disorder

You may find it difficult to interact in social settings and work settings if you have this condition and this happens because you are scared of the following:

  • Disapproval
  • Rejection
  • Embarrassment
  • Criticism
  • Intimate relationships
  • Ridicule
  • Making new friends

You may also have trouble believing that people like you. When you are scared of being rejected or criticized, you may interpret very normal comments or actions as being negative.

What causes personality disorders?

The causes of personality disorders, in general, have not been known. However, researchers think that genetic and environmental factors play a role.

Risk factors for personality disorders

There is no sure way to know those who will develop APD. People with this condition are usually shy children but not every shy child will grow to develop APD. Also, not all adults who are shy have an avoidant personality disorder. In those with APD, their shyness level most likely increased as they got older. It may have gotten to the extent that you begin to avoid other people and some situations.

Diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder

The physician will make a referral to a mental health specialist following suspicion of the disorder. The specialist will ask questions that will determine if you have APD. To be diagnosed with APD, your symptoms should have developed during childhood or at early adulthood, at most.

You should also manifest at least four of the following:

  • Avoiding activities that make you have contact with other people due to fear of being rejected, criticized, or disapproved of.
  • You are not willing to be involved with others except you are very sure that they like you.
  • You do not wholly give into a relationship because you are scared of being ridiculed or frustrated.
  • An inadequacy feeling which makes you hold back or avoid some social situations.
  • You feel inferior and unappealing to others
  • You want to avoid embarrassment by not taking part in new activities or taking risks.

Treatment for avoidant personality disorder

The most potent treatment for an avoidant personality disorder is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy helps you to recognize your unconscious beliefs about yourself and how you are viewed by others. It assists you to function better both socially and at work. The therapist may use either cognitive behavior therapy or psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy

It is a mode of talk therapy. It makes you aware of your unconscious thoughts and can also help you understand the link between past experiences and your present behavior. This will make you assess and resolve some past emotional troubles and pains to advance and have a more positive outlook about yourself and how you are viewed by others. 

This form of psychotherapy yields lasting results with advantages that persist even after treatment.

Cognitive behavior therapy

It is also a form of talk therapy. Here, the therapist assists you to identify and substitute unhealthy beliefs and thought processes. The therapist will also advise you to examine your thoughts and tests your beliefs to see if they have a real basis. They will also assist you in developing healthier, alternative thoughts.

Medication

There is no medication approved yet for the treatment of personality disorders. If you have depression or anxiety alongside the APD, the doctor may prescribe some anti-depressants.

Outlook for personality disorders

If treatment isn’t given, some people with APD may isolate themselves. The resultant effect of the isolation may be an extra psychiatric disorder such as depression, agoraphobia, and substance abuse problems.

Treatment will not change your personality. You will likely still be shy and still have problems with work and social interactions but with treatment, your symptoms will improve and you will over time, be able to relate with others.

Leave a Reply