Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant Personality Disorders are characterized by hypersensitivity to rejection and criticism, a desire for uncritical acceptance, social withdrawal in spite of a desire for affection and acceptance, and low self-esteem. This pattern is long-standing and severe enough to cause objective distress and seriously impair the ability to work and maintain relationships. 

Avoidant Personality disorder and social anxiety disorder have similarities in the features of the disorder and the behavior of the individual. However, there are significant differences between the two disorders. There are chances for the disorders to co-occur and to be mistakenly diagnosed. Social anxiety disorder and personality disorder have similar characteristics of becoming overwhelmed with fear of being judged or embarrassed in social situations. 

The difference between avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety disorder


Avoidant personality disorder  Social anxiety disorder
Usually develops early in adulthood. Can develop at any age.
Set of characteristics that involve fear of being judged and embarrassed.  Significant fear is associated with the fear of being judged and embarrassed. 
The characteristics are rigid and inflexible.  The irrational thoughts can be altered.
Lack insight about themselves.  Have insight about themselves.
Avoidance of social situations. Avoidance of specific social situations.
The individual is not aware that something is wrong and is comfortable with how they live.  The individuals are aware of what is wrong and uncomfortable with how they live. 


Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, a feeling of inadequacy, and being extremely sensitive to negative evaluation or criticism. 

  • Take extreme measures to avoid social and occupational activities that involve interpersonal contact and socializing.
  • The reason for isolation is fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection from others.
  • Unwilling to get involved with people.
  • Hesitant to be in an intimate relationship.
  • Preoccupied with the thoughts of how others view them, criticism, and rejection in social situations.
  • Feeling inadequate.
  • See oneself as socially incompetent and inferior to others.
  • Reluctant to take personal risks or engage in any new activities.
  • Low self-esteem 

The cause of avoidant personality disorder

The causal factors are a mix of nurture and natural aspects of life. 

  • Anxious or disorganized attachment style 
  • Subjected to authoritarian parenting or neglectful parenting during childhood.
  • Family history of other neurotic or psychotic disorders.
  • Childhood abuse or neglect 
  • Temperamental traits 
  • History of negative interpersonal relationships or social connections
  • Being bullied during childhood. 
  • Children with low ego


Cognitive-behavioral therapy 

CBT techniques can be used effectively to challenge the core beliefs that are rooted in past experience, help the client gain insight, and enhance self-awareness. CBT can be used to address the fear. However, research in this area is limited.

Interpersonal Therapy 

Interpersonal therapy techniques are used to teach the clients a healthy way of developing interpersonal skills and building social connections. 


There are no medications for avoidant personality disorders. In some cases of other psychiatric disorders, like mood disorders, anti-depressants are prescribed by a psychiatrist. 



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