What It Means to Have Avoidant Personality Disorder

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What It Means to Have Avoidant Personality Disorder

Lonely girl sitting on the ground in front of two ladies talking / Photo by 123rf.com


Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD) is described by FactDr as a medical condition characterized by having hardship in creating close relationships and having a small social circle which is limited to individuals who approve of them. People who have this condition may want to be able to form emotional bonds with others but are hindered by their lack of self-esteem and what they perceive to be as an inability to blend in with others.

Addiction Hope states that this personality disorder is common among individuals who have anxiety disorders. They also estimate that across the globe, 0.5% to 1% have Avoidant Personality Disorder




Under Avoidant Personality are four main subtypes which are:

1. Phobic

This is when a person has an intense fear of certain objects or situations.

2. Conflicted

This is described as being in a state of confusion, being more likely to have violent outbursts and being unable to stop worrying.

3. Self-deserting

This is when a person avoids self-awareness.

4. Hypersensitive

This is defined as being panicky or being extremely doubtful or distrusting.




There is no known direct cause of Avoidant Personality Disorder. However, there are some elements known to contribute to a person’s development of this. These factors are:

1. Biological

If the individual’s family has a history of having APD, there are high chances that this may be passed on genetically.

2. Social

Children who have felt emotionally neglected or have been rejected by friends and family have a tendency to acquire this.

3. Psychological

Children who have anxiety disorders which are characterized by being fearful and shy to new circumstances or places are also at risk of developing this.



Lifehack describes the general symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder as being feeling inhibited socially, feeling that they are not enough or are inferior compared to others and being sensitive to negative responses.

More detailed symptoms from them and FactDr include:

1. Hesitation in interacting with others unless they are sure they will be liked

2. Refraining from joining social activities at work, school or for personal reasons because of their fear of criticism and rejection

3. Being against change, especially in social situations because of shyness or feeling inadequate

4. Finding it difficult to form intimate relationships due to their fears and insecurities

5. Being extremely sensitive to criticism rejection or disapproval

6. Feeling socially awkward, inferior or unappealing to others, meaning they have low self-esteem

7. Avoiding attention so they do not get humiliated

8. Not wanting to share personal information

9. Being too self-conscious

10. Refraining from physical contact

11. Being pessimistic or always assuming the worst

12. Having fantasies as part of escapism

13. Unsociable behavior and extreme self-imposed isolation

Although an individual with APD may long to be accepted and emotional intimacy, they will avoid in engaging in interpersonal interactions because they are afraid of being judged, fear disapproval and are easily hurt by criticisms. This is also because they have a low sense of self-esteem.

Due to this, they tend to exhibit reclusive behavior and are very critical of themselves.



The treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder consists of being subjected to therapy, getting medication and prevention.



There are many therapies available for those who suffer from APD. If they want to be able to reduce their tendency to avoid situations where they have to interact with others, they may see a therapist so they can go through any of the following therapies:

1. Psychoanalytical Therapy

This is to assist them in letting go of repressed feelings and experiences.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This therapy focuses on coping strategies that can help them solve any current problems they are facing and changing negative thought patterns.


A group therapy, people siting close to each other comforting and communicating to one another / Photo by 123rf.com


3. Group Therapy

One or more therapists help treat a small group of patients.

4. Psychoeducation

The therapist will help in educating both the individual and their family members about their condition so they can be effectively treated and learn how to cope with it.

5. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

This kind of therapy helps the patient identify what triggers them and how to deal with with those triggers. The therapist will guide them by helping them assess which coping mechanisms are appropriate to apply for those triggers.


There are no studies that show that there are specific medications that cure Avoidant Personality Disorder.

However, they may take some antidepressants.



There are two known ways to be able to help a person avoid developing or having their Avoidant Personality Disorder from further developing. These ways are:

1. Having an expressive family environment

2. Emotionally stimulating them


It is advised that the patient should undergo therapy and learn more about their condition. It is also recommended that they write in a journal so that they would be able to express all their emotions. Individuals who suffer from Avoidant Personality Disorder should not be left alone but instead should be around people they are comfortable with. They are also advised to remember to take proper medication and have regular check-ups.


Happy family eating lunch outside in the garden / Photo by 123rf.com




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