Avoidant Personality Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and This is How to Overcome

An avoidance personality disorder is a long-lasting pattern of behavior associated with social barriers, feelings of incompetence, and sensitivity to rejection that cause problems in work and relationship situations. Find out more about Avoidant Personality Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and This is How to Overcome.

In this article, you can find out people with a history of personality disorders, how to deal with them, how to treat and others.


What is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Avoidant personality disorder (APD) is a long-lasting pattern of behavior associated with social inhibition, feelings of incompetence, and sensitivity to rejection that cause problems in work situations and relationships.

People with disorders show a pattern of avoidance for fear of rejection, which they experience as very painful.

The disorder affects about two percent of the population, with the number of men and women alike suffering.


Is Avoidance-Personality Disorder the Same as Social Anxiety

Researchers and clinicians used to believe that avoidable personality disorder only occurs in conjunction with a social anxiety disorder (SAD). However, more recent research shows that there is a significant percentage of people with AVPD who do not meet the criteria for social anxiety disorder.

Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish whether a person has a social anxiety disorder or an avoidance personality disorder, or both. Typically, someone with AVPD will experience anxiety and avoidance in all areas of life, whereas someone with social anxiety may only have specific fears for certain situations, such as public speaking or performing.

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In addition to social anxiety disorder, people with an avoidable personality disorder may have concomitant conditions including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, or other personality disorders. People with AVPD also have a higher risk of substance abuse and suicidal behaviors.

Sometimes avoidance personality disorder is also confused with schizoid personality disorder, as both conditions involve social isolation. However, people with schizophrenic personality disorder have a common disinterest in interacting with others, whereas people with personality disorders avoid wanting relationships but tend to avoid them for fear of being rejected or criticized.


Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Here are some symptoms of avoidant personality disorder:

  • Social inhibition
  • Feeling incapable
  • Hypersensitivity to negative evaluation
  • Anxiety at the thought of doing or saying something wrong
  • Need to be liked
  • Avoid situations for fear of being rejected
  • Avoid intercourse or sharing intimate feelings
  • Avoid social situations or events
  • Avoid interactions in work arrangements or reject promotions
  • Avoid conflict (be a “pleasant person”)
  • Low confidence level
  • Lack of assertiveness
  • Extreme self-awareness
  • Seeing yourself socially incompetent or inferior
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Self-isolation
  • Failed to start social contact
  • Anhedonia (lack of fun in activities)
  • Anxiety in social situations
  • Avoid making decisions
  • Beware of signs of rejection
  • Easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
  • No close friends / no social networks
  • Do not be afraid to try new things or take chances
  • Feeling scared and tense
  • Misinterpreted the neutral situation as negative


Causes of Avoidant Personality Disorder

The causes of avoidant personality disorders are thought to involve genetic, environmental, social, and psychological factors.

Emotional abuse, criticism, ridicule, lack of compassion, or parenting by parents can result in the development of this personality disorder if other factors are also present. Rejection by peers can also be a risk factor.

Often, individuals with this disorder are as shy as children and do not overcome this shyness as they age. Social anxiety disorders and avoidance personality disorders have similar symptoms and genetics, with PPE being a more severe form of the condition.

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Avoidant Personality Disorder Diagnosis

Avoidance personality disorder can only be diagnosed by trained mental health experts based on the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). While a family doctor can be the first point of contact for diagnosis, your doctor should make a referral to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other professional for diagnosis.

An avoidance personality disorder is usually diagnosed in adults, as children’s personalities are still developing, and behaviors such as shyness can become normal experiences in later childhood.

According to DSM-5, at least the following four criteria must be met for a diagnosis to be made:

  • Avoid work activities that involve significant social contact for fear of criticism, and rejection
  • Don’t want to engage with others unless you’re sure they’ll like you
  • Holding back in intercourse for fear of being ridiculed or humiliated
  • Social situations that are fraught with rejection or criticism
  • Inhibition in new social situations because it feels inadequate
  • Feeling socially incompetent, unattractive, or inferior to others
  • Refuse to take risks or do anything new for fear of embarrassment

Avoidant Personality Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and This is How to Overcome

How do you self-medicament an avoidance personality disorder?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps those who receive it eliminate thinking patterns and unproductive reactions, can be beneficial for men and women with anxiety problems, including those with AVPD. Because of their social anxiety, people with AVPD may find stress therapy at an early stage.

You can also see Borderline Personality disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Psychology Today.


What is the best therapy for an avoidable personality disorder?

Psychotherapy is the main treatment for avoidance personality. Psychodynamic therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are two specific types of therapies often used to treat this condition.


Treatment and treatment of people with avoidant personality disorder

Avoidable personality disorders can be overcome by psychotherapy. However, some medications may also be prescribed by a doctor in some cases.

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Psychodynamic psychotherapy

One of the psychotherapy to overcome avoidable personality disorder is psychodynamic psychotherapy. This therapy is a form of storytelling therapy. Psychodynamic psychotherapy helps the patient to become more aware of his or her mind and helps the patient understand the influence of past experiences on current behavior.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy also helps the patient to understand and solve the conflicts and emotional wounds he or she is experiencing. This therapy can provide long-term benefits for patients even after completing a series of meetings with doctors.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also another form of storytelling therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the patient to acknowledge what he or she believes in but also encourages the patient to dismiss the belief.

Counselors and cognitive behavioral therapy guides will accompany the patient to bring up healthier thoughts than negative thoughts such as fear and anxiety.



Avoidable personality disorders are not covered by FDA-approved drugs.   However, if the patient feels symptoms such as sadness and excessive anxiety, the doctor may prescribe antidepressants.


Were you born with an avoidance personality disorder?

It cannot explain why some people develop AVPD, as they may have a family history and never have this condition. The researchers suggest that there are early childhood experiences that contribute to evasive behaviors and personality disorders.


Conditions Related to Avoidant Personality Disorder

Personality avoidance disorders can occur simultaneously and overlap with a variety of other conditions, including:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Agoraphobia

If you think someone you know or love may be living with symptoms of an avoidant personality disorder, it’s important to encourage that person to seek help. Without professional treatments such as speech therapy, it is unlikely that the symptoms and associated effects on the relationship will increase.

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