In A Better You, Syndromes & Disorders

On The Signs of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant Personality Disorder

If you suffer from elimination disorders such as avoidant personality disorder you experience extreme sensitivity when it comes to the impressions other people have of you. Constant feelings of inadequacy plague you and discourage you from having a normal, healthy social life, which is something everyone needs. It is very likely that you avoid putting yourself into any kind of situation where you would have to be exposed to other people on a regular basis.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms

There are five symptoms that anyone suffering from avoidant personality disorder will experience. These five symptoms are a fear of becoming embarassed, humiliated or rejected, avoiding other people and isolating yorself as much as possible and a general withdrawal from any social activities whatsoever.

Suffering from these symptoms is a sign that you suffer from low self esteem and simply can’t handle being rejected by anyone for any reason. Social inhibition often prevents you from having the healthy support system that everyone needs in order to live a happy and content life. When you practice avoidance behavior you are doing a disservice to yourself and you must seek help immediately. The first step in obtaining help for this type of severe social withdrawal is to understand the causes of it.

Causes Of AVPD

Though there is no clear cause of this disorder there are factors that can make a person more likely to suffer from it than others. In some cases the disorder is inherited from one’s family. There are certain tempermental factors that can cause it, such as anxiety disorders that can cause you to become socially inept. These disorders often start when one is a child or a teenager and manifest themselves in characteristics such as shyness and fear. In some cases these disorders can start at the age of only four months.

Studies have shown that if you suffer from this disorder as an adult it could be because you were emotionally abused as a child. Prenatal factors can contribute to the appearance of the disorder, so if your mother had an unhealthy pregnancy you could have it becasue of that.


In order to properly diagnose you with this disorder your doctor must be either a psychiatrist or a psychologist. A face to face assesment must be performed by a qualified professional. They will take into account your personal history and how many of the symptoms of the disorder you are experiencing.

Treatment For AVPD

There are many different treatment plans for this disorder and the guidelines for each type of treatment vary. Various types of therapy are used to treat the disorder; including:

  • Cognitive/Behavior Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Interpersonal Therapy
  • Psychopharmacological Treatment
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Medications

Cognitive/Behavior Therapy

Cognitive and behavior therapy involves teaching you the healthiest ways to cope with anxiety so it doesn’t cripple you. Part of this type of therapy involves exposing you to social situations you are not comfortable, in order to teach you how to become comfortable. Depending on the individual one course of treatment may be all this is needed in order to treat this disorder. Only the severely impaired need multiple therpay sessions to successfully treat it.

Though this type of therapy can often improve symptoms of the disorder it can’t always eliminate them all together. In some cases intimacy training is needed in order to alleviate the symptoms of the disorder. Cognitive and behavior therapy are most often applied if you have thoughts that are considered self depricating. The ultimate goal of this type of therapy is to alter the ways you think about yourself and the ways you asses yourself. It is designed to make you less critical of yourself and to love your self more. This is often the first step in recovery. It may be given in conjunction with psychodynamic therapy.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is designed to interpret your fears in a way that will allow you to face them successfully. During this type of therapy you will come to learn why you fear the things that you fear. Impulses you don’t even realize you are having must be discovered and defined in order to help you start healing. When you are experiencing severe grief or shame about yourself and who you are this type of therapy can be very helpful.

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal Therapy can be a huge help to anyone suffering from this disorder. During this type of therapy you will be taught how to experience healthy emotions in your relationships with other people. It is about overcoming your fear of being rejected by others. The behavior that is causing you to suffer is examined during this type of therapy anf you are taught how to change your behavior so that it is healthy for you. Working through your behavior patterns with your therapist will go a long way in helping you become a happier person.

Most people who end up in Interpersonal therapy are extremely timid and avoid interacting with others as much as possible. Throughout treatment the natural progression is to become less timid and more comfortable when it comes to interacting with people. You will build up your self confidence to a healthy level when you undergo interpersonal therapy. If you have a significant other it is not unheard of for them to be involved in your therapy session. This is done because your therapist knows that your significant other is likely the person you are most comfortable being around. You are instructed to practice new social skills on your partner so that you have the confidence to practice them with others as well.

Pyschopharmacological Treatment

Though medication is not the first treatment option that is used for this disorder there are cases where it may help you. Since general phobia and anxiety disorders are often treated with medication it is not a stretch to think that medication can also help treat this disorder. Emotional pain is usually tremendous in anyone suffering from it and medical science has proven that medications are effective when it comes to treating emotional pain in most individuals.

You may be prescribed anti depressants if you suffer from this disorder. However, not everyone with the disorder responds to them. If you are one of these individuals there is a relatively new medication that may help you. With mood stabilizing properties it can make dealing with the disorder significantly easier in some patients. Most of the time you will be given medication for several months at a time.

Group Therapy

Though you may be hesitant to participate in group therapy you are likely to have to do so in order to assist the healing process. Generally you will be given individual therapy before you are put into a group therapy situation. The individual therapy sessions you will undergo will help prepare you to handle group therapy in a healthy way. When you participate in group therapy you will interact with others who are also suffering from the disorder. Doing so may help you to heal emotionally, which will go a long way in helping you overcome the disorder all together. You will likely draw courage from interacting with others who are suffering the same way you are.

Family Therapy

If your family has contributed to your disorder it is likely the whole family will have to undergo therapy together. Your family members will be taught how to help you deal with your disorder and will be given all the knowledge they need to understand it. The goal of this type of therapy is to have your family help encourage you to socialize with others in healthy ways that you can learn to be comfortable with.

General Medications

Aside from being prescribed antidepressants you may also be subscribed sedative medications during the course of your treatment. Though the medication won’t single handedly cure you it will help you cope with the things you will have to do as part of your therapy. You will feel less anxious as a result of the medications and this will make you more comfortable when it comes to practicing normal social interactions. You may be prescribed a PCP or stimulant that will help you feel stronger and less vulnerable.

Other Considerations

When you suffer from this disorder you may also perform compulsive behaviors when it comes to shopping and/or sexual activities. Alcohol and drug addiction, as well as an eating disorder can also result from a APD diagnosis. If this is the case you will need to seek additional treatment in order to be able to heal.

The definition of social anxiety and other similar terms must be made clear when dealing with the disorder. It is important to properly define withdrawn people as being victims of APD. As it is not an uncommon disorder you should never feel ashamed that you are suffering from it. Part of the problem with this is that many people who suffer from ADP already feel very bad about themselves and that often prevents them from seeking treatment. If you are one of these people you should be aware of the fact that there is help out there available to you that you should take advantage of. No one should suffer with this diagnosis when it can be treated in so many ways.

The roots of social anxiety and low self esteem often lie in the experiences you have had throughout your life. Extremely emotionally or mentally stressful events may bring to light symptoms of ADP that you didn’t even realize you had. It is important to stand up and recognize this disorder as something that can and should be treated. No matter how hopeless you may feel there is help out there for you.

Social disorders are more widespread than many people realize. This is partly because so many people are afraid to admit that they are suffering and seek the help that they need. By seeking help for this disorder you are helping other people who suffer from it as much as you are helping yourself. The more the medical community knows about the disorder the better it can be treated.

There are many qualified doctors in practice all across the country that can make diagnosis of ADP. Presence of its symptoms in your life should never be ignored as there is no reason why these symptoms can’t be overcome with the proper mixture of therapy, medication and emotional support that comes from a therapist or family; in ideal cases both work together to help you cope with this disorder and learn how to manage it.


Though APD is still somewhat of a mystery in some ways it is often being studied in an efffort to uncover new and effective forms of treatment and therapy that can help you heal.

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