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Avoidant Personality Disorder

What is avoidant personality disorder?

Avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) is a personality disorder. People with AVPD often have a long history of feeling inadequate (not enough) and are very sensitive to what others think about them.

Someone with an avoidant personality disorder will appear shy and timid. But this is much more than just being ‘shy’. You may avoid people because you feel inferior, even though you really want to have company. You are very sensitive to judgements by others and fear rejection. These feelings are chronic and intense. They negatively affect your ability to engage and function through life.

What are the symptoms of avoidant personality disorder?

A personality disorder is a long-term pattern of behaviour, thinking and emotions. It causes distress and makes it difficult to function in everyday life.

People with personality disorders find it hard to change their behaviour or adapt to different situations. You may have trouble forming positive relationships with others or keeping a job.

For an AVPD diagnosis you need 4 or more of the symptoms listed below:

  • Avoids working with others because of fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.
  • Doesn’t want to get involved with people unless they are sure of being liked.
  • Holds back from close relationships because they fear being shamed or mocked.
  • Is preoccupied with being criticised or rejected in social situations.
  • Is inhibited when meeting new people, due to feeling inadequate.
  • Views self as socially inadequate, personally unappealing, or inferior to others.
  • Is reluctant to try new activities because they may become embarrassed.

Many people have some of these traits but are still able to function normally. These people do not have a personality disorder.

What causes avoidant personality disorder?

The cause of AVPD is not known.

Some people with avoidant personality disorder:

  • come from families where personality disorders are common
  • had childhoods that involved abuse, trauma or neglect
  • come from normal and happy families