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Avoidance Behavior

Here are the causes, symptoms and treatments for avoidant personality disorder, which results in a person displaying such behavior in uncomfortable social scenarios.
Aastha Dogra Jan 22, 2019
Avoidance behavior, or avoidant personality disorder, is a kind of mental disorder which develops when a person consciously or unconsciously escapes from an uncomfortable situation instead of dealing with it. It is usually developed out of fear for any given situation.
It is seen that people who suffer from anxiety, stress, or depression are more prone to this behavior.
Individuals who display such a behavior are unable to sustain their close relationships. As they lack self-discipline, they may never be able to work in a professional setting.
Since taking action is avoided by such individuals, it makes both their personal and professional life suffer immensely. That's why, identifying this mental disorder and taking treatment for it is important to lead a normal life.


Avoidance personality disorder usually develops when a person is growing up. In children, this disorder is very common, especially if they are rejected or ignored by their parents as well as peers.
In fact, this behavioral disorder in the classroom and school is observed in as many as five percent of all school going children. Children faking illnesses or making up other excuses to avoid school are some of the visible signs of school avoidance.
The causes behind this can range from learning disabilities in children to certain psychological factors like stress and anxiety to social factors like being bullied by others or having no friends in school.
In many cases, as children grow up, they outgrow this disorder. However, sometimes, it continues in adulthood as well. In adults too, this behavior results from psychological or social factors. Genetics might play a major part in developing this disorder. The various characteristics can be inherited by an individual from his close family members.


People who are affected by this disorder display many signs and symptoms, which show that these people have low self-esteem and self-worth.
Some of the symptoms are feelings of being inadequate, not trusting others at all, avoiding relationships and intimacy, displaying extreme sensitivity to criticism, having fear of rejection, showing a self-loathing behavior, being socially isolated from others...
Feeling lonely, failure to find success in one's occupation, developing an inferiority complex, and in extreme cases, displaying agoraphobic behavior i.e., getting panic attacks in uncomfortable or new social settings and surroundings.


The first step in the treatment of avoidance personality disorder is its diagnosis. For proper diagnosis, a psychiatrist should be consulted, who would diagnose it through a test. Once it is diagnosed, psychotherapy sessions are the usual course of treatment suggested.
The therapy can be on an individual basis or there might be group-therapy sessions. Certain prescription medications such as antidepressants, might also be suggested to lessen the anxiety of the patient in social situations.
The success of the treatment rests to a great extent on the individual. The more resolved he is to fight his social fears and phobias, the more positive outlook he develops, the more he is able to overcome his sensitivity, and the more are his chances of success with the treatment and maintaining his normal mental health.
Thus, avoidance behavior can be very detrimental for one's personal and professional life. This behavioral disorder can lead to extreme isolation of an individual. Therapy and medication can sometimes help such individuals to lead a normal, healthy life.
However, in some cases, this might be a life-long condition. Even after overcoming it once, a person can suffer from a relapse. Nevertheless, keeping one's resolve to overcome it strong, taking therapy and medication regularly are some of the ways to deal with it.
Disclaimer: This content is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.