Avoidant Personality Disorder: Causes and Treatments

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Avoidant Personality Disorder: Causes and Treatments

2% of the population suffers from avoidant personality disorder/ Photo By pathdoc via Shutterstock


It is normal with people to feel shy in different situations but Psychology Today mentioned that approximately two percent of the population suffers from avoidant personality disorder. People who have this kind of disorder suffer from extreme shyness and fear of rejection which makes it difficult for some people to interact socially and professionally. The avoidant personality disorder is a Cluster C personality disorder. Those affected display a pattern of severe social anxiety, social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation and rejection, and avoidance of social interaction despite a strong desire for intimacy. People with an avoidant personality disorder often consider themselves to be socially inept or personally unappealing and avoid social interaction for fear of being ridiculed, humiliated, rejected, or disliked.

Moreover, an avoidant personality disorder is defined by Mental Health as characterized by moderate to severe detachment. There are 2.4% of the general population who suffers from this disorder and these percentage of people experiences social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation. This disorder is often associated or mistaken with social anxiety since they are almost the same disorder. The avoidant personality disorder is often viewed as a variant of social anxiety disorder. The impetus for research into this condition has waxed and waned, possibly due to concerns regarding its distinctiveness from other disorders, especially with a social anxiety disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and dependent personality disorder. There are areas of discontinuity that have been described that support the distinction between avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety disorder.

People who have an avoidant personality disorder experiences long-standing feelings of inadequacy and are extremely sensitive to what other people think about them. These feelings of inadequacy lead the person to be socially inhibited and feel socially awkward and these will lead the patient to find an excuse to avoid work, school, and any activities that involve socializing or interacting with other people. Sometimes normal people can’t understand what it feels like to have a social anxiety and the need to avoid socialization. Most of the normal people think that it is just an excuse to get away from the situation, but the truth is it is a real phenomenon and it should’ve been taken seriously.


What causes avoidant personality disorder?

Although the causes of avoidant personality disorder are not fully understood, researchers believe that biological, environmental, and genetic factors play a huge and important rule in the roots of avoidant personality disorder. “The fact that avoidant personality disorder occurs more often in certain families suggests that a tendency to develop the disorder might be passed on in families through their genes. The disorder itself is likely triggered by environmental influences such as parental or peer rejection, which can have an impact on a person’s self-esteem and sense of worth.” noted by Cleveland Clinic and posted on a website called Bridgestorecovery. 

people with APD suffer from extreme shyness and fear of rejection/ Photo By fizkes via Shutterstock


On the other hand, The Mighty noted that avoidant personality disorder could be a product of both genetic and environmental factors. Moreover, individuals who had experienced emotional abuse when they were younger tend to develop a personality disorder when they grow up to be an adult. Parenting behaviors and techniques also play a vital role in having an impact on having a personality disorder when they become an adult. Children who had a lower level of parental guidance and affection which could stem from feelings of worthlessness and might lead the child to feel that they are not worthy enough to receive love and care from other people.

Genetics also play a role in the development of avoidant personality trait. Scientists associated a genetic component in the development of this disorder. The avoidant personality disorder has a connection with neuroticism and has a relationship with extraversion. The Mighty explained that people with avoidant personality disorder tend to be more anxious, introverted, and closed off with other people around them.

What are the treatments?

In treating avoidant personality disorder, there are various techniques that the patients could use. These include social skills, training, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, and exposure treatment to gradually increase social contacts, group therapy for practicing social skills, and sometimes drug therapy. Meanwhile, in a website Counselling Directory UK, they mentioned that the treatment approach to use for avoidant personality disorder is the combination of psychotherapy and medication. Experts also suggest that the person who suffers from the disorder should try to open up and talk with other people in order for them to understand their condition.


A key issue in treatment is gaining and keeping the patient’s trust since people with an avoidant personality disorder will often start to avoid treatment sessions if they distrust the therapist or fear rejection. The primary purpose of both individual therapy and social skills group training is for individuals with an avoidant personality disorder to begin challenging their exaggerated negative beliefs about themselves.



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