A person under the influence of Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) has a poor self-image. The trouble usually sets in childhood and the following symptoms are associated with it.
- Avoiding social interaction and activities due to fear of interpersonal contact, fear of being criticized, rejected or not being considered.
- Unwilling to involve self with people for fear of being disliked or unwilling to get along with people unless appreciated or liked by them.
- Maintaining a low profile and not interacting even with intimate relations because of a sense of shame, guilt or ridicule.
- Searching for new relationships as a feeling of inadequacy seeps in.
- Abnormally obsessed with trying to avoid embarrassment in social gatherings.
- Always considering self unattractive or inferior to others.
- Lacking interest in undertaking new ventures or initiatives, again for fear of embarrassment.
It is accompanied by bouts of depression in some cases. Though, people suffering from avoidant personality disorder may be successful in life or have a normal routine, but it may cause grave health concerns if not taken care of, in the long term. The nature of this disorder is such that, it shares many symptoms with other disorders.
Therefore, before undertaking any measures to counter it, there should be a clear identification of the disorder and hence, a precise diagnosis of the ailment. Many people tend to be shy or reserved personalities or panic due to a condition called agoraphobia and hence, avoid social contact.
Schizoid Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder and Paranoid Personality Disorder may also bear the given symptoms in varying degrees. Also, substance abuse can also consist of the aforementioned symptoms. But, there is a difference between the various disorders, which need to be taken into account before deciding the existence of AvPD.
Science is yet to conclusively ascertain the cause of AvPD. Sometimes, it is attributed to the upbringing of an individual and his personal experiences of being ill-treated or perceived to have been ill-treated by society.
Some experts believe it is caused by biological factors inherent in an individual. But there is almost negligible evidence to suggest that the avoidant personality disorder is hereditary or follows any gender pattern. It is a rare disorder.
Adlerian therapy: It is a therapy that emphasizes a positive view of human life and its guiding principle is that a man has control over his fate and is in no way, a victim of it.
Behavior therapy: It encompasses the learning model by reinforcing and imitating normal behavior. The basic assumption of behavioral treatment is that any behavior can be learned and human nature is a product of the surrounding environment.
Existential Therapy: A patient is persuaded in an inspiring manner to realize his personal responsibilities, avoid tasks that cause stress, take on challenging aspects of life with a positive attitude and making him aware of the present.
Person-Centric Therapy: It is similar to Gestalt therapy, where the client gets more responsibilities to be aware of his realities. It essentially eliminates the denial of feelings, and a client accepts his/her problems and faces them. A patient is encouraged to express his views and feelings more vividly and gradually make him move towards ideal behavior.
Psychotherapy: It is one of the most effective treatments of avoidant personality disorder. It focuses on the unconscious mind of the individuals. Suppression of certain conflicting ideas or situations, leads to a heightened level of anxiety.
Psychotherapy attempts to deal with the issues of the unconscious mind. However, the treatment can be very sensitive, and impulsive or psychotic patients should be treated under expert guidance only.
The US Drug and Food Administration has not prescribed any drug treatment for children or adolescents with AvPD, but therapy and counseling can work wonders. Certain drugs along with therapeutic treatments in case of adults, can be very effective in dealing with avoidant personality disorder.