Avoidant personality disorder (AvPD), also known as anxious personality disorder, is a personality disorder, where people become so preoccupied with their inadequacies or shortcomings that they develop a fear of negative assessment, criticism, and rejection. People with this disorder consider themselves inferior and inept for social interaction.
In other words, people with this disorder become extremely sensitive to any negative evaluation, and develop a fear of being ridiculed or rejected by others due to their inadequacies. This compels them to avoid social interaction. However, this does not mean that they do not want to establish social relationships.
Instead, they lack the skills required for social interaction. Therefore, they feel themselves incapable of social interaction and withdraw from people around them. People having this personality disorder exhibit extreme shyness, social withdrawal, and a very cautious behavior while speaking to others.
Avoidant Personality Disorder Causes
It is believed that several factors, such as social, psychological, and genetic factors can influence the development of this personality disorder. It is suspected to have a close association with the temperament of an individual, which in turn can be inherited.
AvDP is usually observed in childhood, but children usually overcome this disorder as they grow older. But for some individuals, the condition may continue into their adulthood. Some social factors like parental or social criticism or rejection during childhood can contribute towards the development of this personality disorder.
It is observed that many people with this personality disorder have experienced criticism and rejection from their parents and peers. The painful memories of rejection leave a lasting impression in their minds and make them very sensitive to criticism and negative evaluation. To avoid such embarrassing situation in future, they avoid social interaction.
Avoidant Personality Disorder Signs
Social isolation (self-imposed) and withdrawal are the most common symptoms of this disorder. People with this condition also exhibit the following signs and symptoms:
- Extreme shyness, especially while facing a new situation.
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism, rejection, and other negative assessment.
- Avoidance of social as well as occupational interactions and activities, especially if they require interpersonal contact.
- Low self-esteem, self loathing, and a sense of inadequacy and inferiority.
- Fantasizing the situations they usually avoid in reality.
- Keeping a certain distance even in intimate relationships for the fear of being ridiculed.
- A preoccupation with criticism and rejection, which induces them to spend a lot of time thinking about such painful situation.
- Reluctance to take up social risk, for which they usually interact only when they are sure of being accepted.
- A feeling of mistrust towards others.
Psychotherapy is usually employed for treating a number of personality disorders, including the avoidant personality disorder. Apart from psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, group therapy, and behavior therapy can be used for treating this condition. Sometimes, medications are also used to treat the symptoms of this condition.
Individuals with this disorder often respond to antianxiety and antidepressant medications. The main difficulty associated with the treatment of this condition is that the individuals with this disorder do not trust others easily. They develop a distrust towards others. So, a therapist has to win their confidence and trust before initiating the treatment.
Disclaimer: This content is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.