Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)

Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Learn about Avoidant Personality Disorder, a mental health condition characterized by social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to criticism. Find out about its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

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Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)

Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) is a mental health condition that affects an estimated 1% of the general population. It is a type of personality disorder characterized by pervasive social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection. People with AvPD often have low self-esteem and are fearful of being judged, leading to avoidance of social situations and difficulty forming relationships.

Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder may include:

  • Avoidance of social activities or situations that involve significant contact with others
  • Fear of being criticized or rejected, and a reluctance to engage in activities that may lead to these experiences
  • Feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and low self-esteem
  • Preoccupation with being disliked or criticized by others
  • Reluctance to try new things or take risks due to fear of failure or embarrassment
  • A tendency to interpret criticism or rejection as confirmation of one's unworthiness
  • Difficulty forming close relationships, and a tendency to be shy or reserved around others
  • Hypersensitivity to social cues, including facial expressions and body language

What are the causes of Avoidant Personality Disorder 

The causes of Avoidant Personality Disorder are not well understood, but it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Studies have shown that people with AvPD may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders and that early childhood experiences of rejection or criticism may contribute to the development of the condition.

Childhood abuse and neglect are typically associated with the development of avoidant personality disorder in adulthood (Eikenaes et al., 2015).

What are the treatments for Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder typically involves a combination of talk therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a commonly used form of therapy that can help people with AvPD challenge negative thoughts and beliefs, develop social skills, and overcome their fear of social situations. Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms.

Living with Avoidant Personality Disorder can be challenging, but with proper treatment and support, many people with the condition can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. If you think you may have AvPD or know someone who does, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.

Eikenaes I, Egeland J, Hummelen B, Wilberg T (2015) Correction: Avoidant Personality Disorder versus Social Phobia: The Significance of Childhood Neglect. PLOS ONE 10(5): e0128737. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0128737

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