Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant PD

Would you consider yourself to be someone who is extremely shy and insecure ?

Are you someone who would be terrified of being in situations where you may be criticized ?

Are you constantly afraid that you will be judged ?

Do you avoid initiating or maintaining social contact out of fear of rejection ?

When in social situations, a person with avoidant personality disorder may be afraid to speak up for fear of saying the wrong thing and/or getting embarrassed. One may also spend a great deal of time studying situations for signs of approval or rejection. Read on if you relate.

Anxious avoidant PD is characterized by feelings of extreme social inhibition, inadequacy, and sensitivity to negative criticism and rejection. These symptoms involve more than simply being shy or socially awkward. People with APD often suffer from chronic feelings of inadequacy, hypersensitivity to being criticized, and a need for physical or psychological safety that leads to significant distress and/or impairment. People with APD generally desire social connection, but are crippled by a sense of personal inadequacy and intense fears of social rejection or rebuff.

The diagnostic features of avoidant personality disorder are

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder needs to show at least four of the following criteria:

  • Avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.
  • Is unwilling to get involved with people unless they are certain of being liked.
  • Shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed.
  • Is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations.
  • Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy.
  • Views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others.
  • Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing.

Shyness, fear of strangers, social awkwardness, or being sensitive to criticism are often a normal part of child and adolescent development and should not be considered pathological.

What causes avoidant personality disorder

Individuals with APD may have had experiences that serve to deflate their self-esteem through degradation, humiliation, or rejection. With repeated negative experiences one may view themselves as being unlikable. One’s personality develops as a result of an interplay between genetic and environmental factors. Any behavior that you exhibited or observed which was effective in reducing distress or in increasing reward is hard coded into your brain as your personality. Genetics may play a causal role in the development of a few personality traits. Parental and environmental influences play a major role in the formation of one’s self image and thus may lead to problematic personality traits.

What are my options ?

Awareness and Insight ! is the first thing that one needs, in order to change a few personality traits. You need to acknowledge your distress for any sort of therapy to work. Every thought and act needs to observed with attention and awareness, and automatic reactions to automatic thoughts need to go.

Take help ! Talk to a mental health professional.

Cognitive behavioral therapy – Which focuses on modifying beliefs that lead to automatic actions by means of behavioral experiments and didactic discussions.

Mindfulness based therapy – Helps in rooting oneself to the present and in making changes to one’s personality thereby making life less stressful and more enjoyable.

Medications – Drugs may sometimes be prescribed for certain co morbid conditions such as depression or marked anxiety.

One does not have to suffer through life because of poor coping and an dysfunctional personality, though it may seem difficult, it is quite possible to modify personality traits provided adequate time and effort is given. Any skilled mental health professional would be able to help you out with your coping styles.

You can change, if you want to ! Please seek help the moment you feel like you need it.