Avoidant Personality Disorder

Overview

Avoidant personality disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme shyness, hypersensitivity to criticism, feelings of inadequacy, and social isolation. Personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause unhealthy patterns of thoughts and behaviors. The cause of avoidant personality disorder is unknown, but individualized therapy can improve symptoms.

Avoidant personality disorder can have serious effects on a person’s life and social relationships.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Avoidant personality disorder is a Cluster C personality disorder, or one that involves anxious, fearful thoughts or behaviors. People with avoidant personality disorder suffer from obsessive thoughts about their own shortcomings. They also feel severe anxiety over being rejected and often isolate themselves to avoid the possibility of having others reject them. People with this disorder may be insecure, shy in social situations, avoid contact with others, and hold back in intimate relationships. Another prominent symptom of avoidant personality disorder is sensitivity to criticism or disapproval.

Avoidant personality disorder is usually diagnosed in early adulthood with a psychological evaluation that looks at medical history and symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) can be used to diagnose avoidant personality disorder. A person must meet four of the following criteria: avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact due to fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection; is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked; shows restraints within intimate relationships; is preoccupied with criticism or rejection in social situations; is inhibited in new interpersonal situations due to feelings of inadequacy; views self as socially inept, unappealing, or inferior; and is unusually reluctant to take personal risk or to engage in any new activities due to fear of embarrassment. When diagnosing avoidant personality disorder, doctors must also rule out other personality disorders such as dependent, paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders. Continue reading for Causes, Prevention and Treatment Information . . .

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