Avoidant Personality Disorder

AVOIDANT PERSONALITY DISORDER

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

The social and emotional dimensions of human existence form a highly complex web that takes most of us a good part of our lives to learn to comfortably navigate. However, some individuals never do manage to achieve this. Those with avoidant personality disorder are such. Although they desire emotional closeness with others, they may be hampered by their lack of self-esteem and their perceived inability to ‘fit in’. Neutral comments or even humor may be misconstrued as humiliation and rejection.

Such experiences can be crippling to individuals with already weak social skills and they may respond by altogether avoiding other people. They usually have difficulty in forming close personal relationships or have an extremely limited social circle, restricted only to those who approve of them. If a person exhibits some or all of these behaviors and finds their everyday lives serious result, they may, in fact, be suffering from avoidant personality disorder.

 

What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

AVOIDANT PERSONALITY DISORDER self esteemWhen an individual displays lifelong behaviors or patterns of inner experience that differ from the general norm to the extent that he/she faces serious difficulties with social or occupational functioning, he/she is likely to be suffering from a personality disorder. The avoidant personality disorder is an example of this.

It is a mental illness predominantly marked by an avoidance of interpersonal interactions due to fear of judgment or disapproval, extreme sensitivity to criticism, lack of self-esteem, reclusive behavior and self-criticism. This, despite the fact that the individual, in fact, craves the acceptance and emotional intimacy that they believe they are unworthy of. Such people find it difficult to share their feelings, socialize, express themselves in public and, consequently, to form close relationships.

They cope by withdrawing and avoiding the sorts of situations that make them anxious and uncomfortable. This may extend to isolating their partners or loved ones from social contact with others. Another name for this condition is ‘anxious personality disorder’.

 

How Does It Develop?

Researchers do not as yet know what in particular causes some individuals to develop the behaviors typical of avoidant personality disorder. Scientists believe that it arises through a complex interplay of genetic, biological, social and psychological factors. Certain behavioral traits are hereditary.

Emotional neglect experienced during the formative years, particularly in childhood and rejection by the peer group can also put an individual at a greater risk of developing an avoidant personality disorder. Also, it frequently occurs in association with other mental disorders such as social phobia, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dependent personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.

 

How Can I Recognise An Avoidant Personality Disorder?

AVOIDANT PERSONALITY DISORDERThe following behaviors are typically present in those suffering from avoidant personality disorder:

  • Fear of strangers, extreme shyness, and awkwardness in group situations.
  • Avoidance of professions or activities that call for interaction with others.
  • Restriction of lifestyle in order to avoid uncomfortable situations and interactions.
  • Inability to share feelings and remaining distant within relationships. The person may generally find it difficult to form close personal relationships.
  • Reclusive behavior and extreme self-imposed isolation.
  • Avoiding attention for fear of embarrassing oneself, inviting ridicule or rejection.
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism and the opinions of others.
  • Aversion to sharing personal information.
  • Considering themselves unappealing and inferior to their peers.
  • Preoccupation with one’s own shortcomings.
  • Inability to trust others.
  • Extreme self-consciousness.
  • Always assuming a worst-case scenario or blowing situations out of proportion.
  • Avoidance of physical contact.
  • Indulging in fantasies as a form of escapism.
  • A persistent sense of anxiety or of being on edge.

 

Can There Be Any Complications?

As a consequence of their inability to form meaningful relationships with other people, those with an avoidant personality disorder do not have a strong emotional or social support system, making them vulnerable to breakdown in crisis situations. If their own coping mechanisms prove insufficient they may develop destructive behaviors such as self-harm or substance abuse. They may also develop mental disorders like depression and agoraphobia (fear of crowds or of crowded places where there is a sense of being trapped).

Extreme withdrawal and isolation is another possible outcome in the absence of sensitive handling and adequate therapy. They can have panic attacks when forced into the very situations that they tend to avoid.

 

What Is The Process For Diagnosing This Disorder?

AVOIDANT PERSONALITY DISORDER fearShyness, fear of strangers and difficulty in forming friendships are common in childhood and adolescence. Some adults, too, remain reserved and somewhat inhibited throughout their lives. However, their reserved nature does not become a serious obstacle in their daily lives. Those who have an avoidant personality disorder, on the other hand, find themselves actively avoiding situations that call for social contact and compromising their normal lifestyles in order to do so.

This is taken to such extremes that they are unable to undertake studies or jobs because of their inability to interact with and constructively accept criticism from others. They consider themselves inferior and unlikeable and obsess over their own perceived failings.

There are several psychiatric disorders (such as social phobia) that share these features. Further, individual patients can show varied and unique sets of behaviors. Other mental illnesses can be present alongside avoidant personality disorder. Thus, making a clear diagnosis is not always a straightforward process. Since it is a psychiatric concern, the diagnosis must be made by a qualified mental health professional. Some of these behaviors are also commonly present early in life when an individual’s personality is still in the process of developing and evolving. Therefore, according to the guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association, individuals under the age of 18 should have displayed the symptoms for at least one year before they can be diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder.

 

Treatment and precaution

Treatment 

  • Psychoanalytical/psychodynamic therapy – To help release repressed emotions and experiences.
  • Dialectal behavioral therapy – Helps people improve their emotional and cognitive regulations by learning about their triggers. Also, helping them asses which coping mechanism to apply for a particular trigger.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy – Targets personal coping strategies to help solve current problems and changing unhelpful patterns in cognition.
  • Group therapy – Here one or more therapists treat a small number of clients as a group.
  • Psychoeducation – Explaining the disorder to the individual and the family to help them with treatment and coping.
  • Medication – Antidepressants are proved to help the patients with certain symptoms. This form of treatment is used along with therapy to help the patient(s) cope.

Preventions – The only known factors which can be controlled to prevent its onset are:

  • Emotional stimulation.
  • Expressive family environment.

 

Facts

  • The diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder (APD) is difficult to make for those who are younger than 18-years-old.
  • Most of the symptoms decrease in severity around the age of 40-50 years.

Facts

  • The cause of APD is unknown.
  • APD is prevalent in 1% of both male and female population.

Facts

  • About 10-50% of those who are diagnosed with panic disorder along with agoraphobia show the symptoms of APD.
  • 20-40% of those who are diagnosed with social phobia possess APD.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Ensure that you go for your therapy session.
  • Learn about your condition as to help you treat it.
  • Write a journal as this will help you express your emotions.
Don'ts
  • Leave the affected individual alone. Make sure that they are surrounded by people that they are comfortable with.
  • Miss out on medications.
  • Neglect their health. Keep getting routine check-ups done.

 

 

 

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Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
Cottage cheese: What can you find in this healthy chunk of fresh milk cheese? Love cheese but scared of putting on extra pounds? With cottage cheese, you can get the best of…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
Unbelievable health benefits of gooseberries (and a few tasty recipes) Gooseberries are antioxidant-rich tasty fruits that can be easily added in daily diet to improve overall health and…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…