Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality
JGI/Jamie Grill / Blend Images / Getty Images

Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by a chronic and pervasive pattern of distorted thought, emotion, behavior, and functioning. This type of personality disorder is thought to affect approximately one-percent of adults in the United States. Individuals with this disorder are also more prone to anxiety disorders, including agoraphobia and social phobia.

Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Individuals with avoidant personality disorder typically experience:

  • Extreme shyness
  • Sensitivity to criticism and rejection
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy
  • A desire for closeness with others but difficulty forming relationships with people outside of immediate family.
  • Avoidance of social situations, including those related to school or work.

Individuals with this disorder tend to be very sensitive to how they are seen by others and what other people think of them. They are very shy and socially inhibited and typically avoid social situations where they will have to interact with others. They often fear being judged by others and found inadequate. People with avoidant personality disorder are often described as shy, lonely, timid, fearful, and isolated.

Treatments for Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is most often treated using psychotherapy. Because individuals with avoidant personality disorder are extremely shy and have difficulty with interpersonal communication, group therapy is generally not recommended.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often very effective in helping individuals overcome shyness and develop new skills and behaviors.

Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressant drugs are often used to help individuals succeed in psychotherapy. While these drugs can help those with avoidant personality disorder succeed in therapy, medication alone is not a recommended treatment for avoidant personality disorder.