Avoidant Personality Disorder – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Test and Diagnosis

Are you very shy in nature? Do you feel yourself inadequate and try not to form relationships for fear of rejection? You may be a victim of Avoidant Personality Disorder then. Read on to get complete Avoidant Personality Disorder information. Know all about the condition, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD) is a psychological condition that makes a person socially withdrawn due to extreme shyness and fear of being rejected or ridiculed. Sufferers of this disease feel as if they are inadequate in some way. It is a mental illness that can make a person socially awkward.

The condition is also known as Anxious Personality Disorder or Dependent Personality Disorder. About 1% of the population are said to suffer from this disorder.

Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder

The main Avoidant Personality Disorder symptoms are


APD makes people extremely sensitive to rejection, ridicule, humiliation or criticism of any kind. Because of Avoidant Personality Disorder highly sensitive persons remain lonely for a lifetime.

Low Self Esteem

People with APD suffer from a sense of inadequacy about themselves. They doubt their own capabilities of communication, appearance and any other facet of themselves. This makes them unable to form romantic relationships.


APD-affected individuals also have a sense of mistrust about others. They feel every stranger may ridicule them in some way.

Extreme Self-Consciousness

Individuals with APD suffer from abnormal kind of self-consciousness. They fear they are inadequate in every way which makes others socially acceptable. They feel inferior to others and loath their own existence.


In people with Avoidant Personality Disorder escapism is a major problem. APD sufferers escape into their own fantasy world to avoid painful reality and the loneliness of their own existence. In Avoidant Personality Disorder fantasy serves as a mode of escape.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Causes

The exact cause of Avoidant Personality Disorder is unknown. Doctors and medical researchers have, however, pinpointed several factors that they believe to be the main Avoidant Personality Disorder causes.

Past Experiences

Any past hurtful experience in the life of a person may be a factor. Incidents of childhood abuse, humiliation by parents or kids at school or rejection in college can give rise to this problem in individuals.

Wrong Development

People brought up in families with parents who tend to control too much can suffer from APD in later years. Too much parental control can curb the independence of a child and make him or her highly sensitive to criticism. It can stifle their natural communication and impair them for life.


Some people have a natural disposition towards being anxious and suffer from pessimism. This makes them suffer from inferiority complex and become socially withdrawn.

People with APD have very few friends and they are not able to enjoy life even with these people. The fear of rejection by their friends constantly haunts them. They remain lonely for the most part of their lives.

Is Avoidant Personality Disorder Hereditary?

Medical researchers have often hinted that genes may be a cause of this condition. However, there is very little evidence to show heredity as an underlying factor for APD. There is not enough reason to believe that biological factors are responsible for APD appearance.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Test and Diagnosis

Avoidant Personality Disorder cases are usually diagnosed by an expert in mental health. A psychiatrist usually looks for symptoms such as

  • Social withdrawal,
  • Deep-seated inferiority complex,
  • Sensitivity to criticism
  • Persistent feelings of anxiety and tension
  • Refusal to indulge in social activities.

Diagnosis is usually carried out through conversation and observing the behavior of a sufferer.

Treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder

Treatment of APD is mainly done with the aid of Psychotherapy. Psychotherapists use psychological counseling to change their thought patterns and self-limiting beliefs. Antidepressant Avoidant Personality Disorder medications may also be used along with psychotherapy to reduce hypersensitivity and bring about faster development in the condition of patients. However, therapy may not yield good results in a few cases. Some patients view therapies as social activities and react very badly to them. Disinclination for social contact is the main obstruction in the treatment of this condition.

Other ways of treating the condition include Group Therapy, Social Skills Training and Cognitive Therapy. Drug Therapy may also be used in some cases. The social skills group training gradually negates misconceptions in the sufferer and builds confidence in him or her.

Avoidant Personality Disorder History

There is no exact time that can be marked as the point of Avoidant Personality Disorder origin. Avoidant Personality Disorder was mentioned in the early years of the 1900s. The disease found a mention in ‘Dementia Praecox: Or the Group of Schizophrenias’ a medical work by a Swiss psychiatrist named Eugen Bleuler. It was much later that the disease came to be known as Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD).

Avoidant Personality Disorder Prognosis

With effective treatment, People with APD gradually become able to have social contact. They may develop some capability of mixing with others. Treatment for a prolonged period can make them quite able to have a social life and form long-term relationships as well.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Risks

In the absence of Avoidant Personality Disorder cure, sufferers may become lonely for life and live a totally isolated existence. In many cases, APD-affected people have been seen to suffer from secondary mental disorders like depression. In Avoidant Personality Disorder depression is also common. APD patients may also become victims of substance abuse.

If you suspect yourself to be showing Avoidant Personality Disorder behaviors and find yourself unable to form long term relations, psychological counseling is the best solution. It is better to begin treatment early so that you do not miss the golden years of your life due to misconceptions about yourself or your abilities. If you feel inhibited to get medical help, ask any near one whom you trust to help you. Timely treatment will help you avoid all future complications and let you live as freely as others.







One Response

  1. charlie barfoot July 12, 2011

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