An avoidant personality disorder is a condition, also called anxiety disorder, characterized by feelings of nervousness and fear. People with avoidant personality disorder have low self-esteem. In addition, they have an intense fear of rejection and condemnation. These feelings create great inconvenience in social interactions, prompting patients to avoid group activities and contact others.
It is estimated that about 2.5% of the population has an avoidant personality disorder. The disease is observed in both men and women.
It appears in infancy or childhood and continues throughout life. However, as with most personality disorders, the avoidant disorder is usually not diagnosed in people younger than 18.
Causes of Avoidant Personality Disorder
The exact cause of avoidant personality disorder is unknown. However, it is believed that genetics and the environment play an important role.
The fact that anxiety disorder is most common in certain families suggests that genes may develop the disease.
The disorder is likely caused by environmental influences such as rejection by parents or peers, which can affect a person’s self-esteem and self-esteem.
Symptoms of avoidant personality disorder
For people with this disorder, the fear of rejection is so intense that they opt for isolation. The behavior patterns of people with the avoidant disorder can range from mild isolation to extreme withdrawal.
In addition to fear of humiliation and rejection, the following behavioral traits are observed in people with anxious (avoidant) personality disorder:
- hypersensitivity to criticism or disapproval from other people;
- a limited number or complete absence of close friends; avoiding interaction with other people
- if you are not sure that they are loved;
- extreme anxiety (nervousness) and fear in social groups, which leads to the avoidance of any
- activities (including work) associated with being in the company of other people;
- clumsiness and shyness due to fear of doing something wrong;
- a tendency to exaggerate potential problems;
- lack of desire to try something new or take risks;
- low self-esteem, perception of oneself as inadequate and unattractive.
Avoidant personality disorder Diagnosis
In the ICD-10 of the World Health Organization, an avoidant personality disorder is listed as anxiety (avoidant) personality disorder.
It is characterized by the presence of at least four of the following:
- a persistent and pervasive feeling of tension and apprehension;
- the belief that a person is socially incompetent, personally unattractive, or inferior to others;
- being overly concerned about being criticized or rejected in social situations;
- unwillingness to get involved with people if you are not sure that you like them;
- lifestyle restrictions due to the need to have physical safety;
- avoid social or professional activities that involve significant interpersonal contact for fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.
Associated characteristics may include hypersensitivity to rejection and criticism.
The ICD-10 requirement that all personality disorder diagnoses also meet a set of general criteria for personality disorder.
The APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is also diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder (301.82). This refers to a widespread model of restraint among people, feeling inadequate and highly sensitive to negative judgment. Symptoms begin in early adulthood and occur in a variety of situations.
Four of the following seven specific symptoms must be present:
- Avoids professional activities that involve significant interpersonal contact due to fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
- does not want to interfere with people if he is not sure what they like
- shows restraint in intimate relationships for fear of being ashamed or ridiculed
- concerned about being criticized or rejected in social situations
- difficult in new interpersonal cases due to feelings of inadequacy
- considers himself socially incapable, personally unattractive, or inferior to others
- unusually reluctant to take personal risks or engage in new activities because they may be uncomfortable
Unlike social anxiety disorder, the diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder. It also requires general criteria for a personality disorder to be met.
According to the DSM-5, avoidant personality disorder must be differentiated from similar personality disorders such as addictive, paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal. But they can also happen together; this is especially true in Dependent Personality Disorder. Thus, if the criteria for more than one personality disorder are met, all can be diagnosed.
Treatments for avoidant personality disorder
Treating personality disorders is difficult because people with these conditions have deeply ingrained ways of thinking and behaving that have been around for many years.
However, people with avoidant personality disorders tend to be optimistic about therapy because their condition causes significant distress, and most of them want to develop relationships with others. This desire can be a motivating factor to follow the treatment plan.
As with other personality disorders, psychotherapy is the primary treatment for avoidant disorders.
Psychotherapy is a type of one-to-one counseling that focuses on changing a person’s thinking (cognitive therapy) and behavior (behavioral therapy). Treatment focuses on overcoming fears, changing thought processes and behavior, and helps the person better cope with social situations.
Medication – Medication, such as taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications (anxiolytics), can help manage the anxiety people with this disorder have. However, for best results, drug therapy should be combined with psychotherapy.
Treatment for people with an avoidant disorder is most effective when family members are involved in the therapy and support the patient.
Without treatment, a person with this condition can become isolated from society, which causes significant difficulties with work and social functioning. They are also at greater risk of depression and substance abuse.