Avoidant Personality Disorder
Everyone feels shy or socially awkward from time to time, but a person who is plagued by constant feelings of inadequacy and goes to great lengths to avoid social situations may have a mental condition known as avoidant personality disorder (APD). It’s common for someone with this disorder to feel inferior and to have low-self esteem. As a result they may avoid certain situations that could put them at risk of rejection — even if that situation could be beneficial to them, such as the acceptance of a promotion.
If you often isolate yourself from other people or find social situations particularly difficult or stressful, you may have avoidant personality disorder. Fortunately, engaging in regular psychotherapy sessions with an experienced psychologist in a safe and nurturing environment can significantly reduce anxiety symptoms and enable meaningful social engagement. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a Beverly Hills psychologist, please contact Blair Wellness Group.
Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder
Individuals may start to exhibit APD symptoms in childhood, but full manifestation doesn’t usually occur until adulthood. Like many personality disorders, symptoms may look different from person to person, but in order to be diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder, a person must exhibit at least four of the following:
- Avoids work activities that involve contact with others due to fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
- Unwilling to get involved with people unless there is some certainty of acceptance
- Cautious in intimate relationships due to a fear of being ridiculed or rejected
- Preoccupied with fears of receiving criticism or rejection in social situations
- Reluctant to engage in new interpersonal situations due to feelings of inadequacy
- Feel socially inept or inferior to others
- Reluctant to engage in new activities because they may prove embarrassing
People with avoidant personality disorder are extremely self-conscious because they have an urgent need to feel accepted. The anxiety they hold about doing or saying something wrong makes them live in a constant state of fear and apprehension. This lack of assertiveness and confidence in oneself makes it difficult to maintain a healthy social life and takes all of the pleasure out of otherwise enjoyable activities.
Risk Factors and Complications
There is no way to know who will develop APD, but like many personality disorders, it could be caused by a variety of biological, psychological, and environmental risk factors. For instance, childhood trauma, emotional abuse, or lack of affection by a parent could contribute to the disorder. People who have another mental health condition or come from a family with a history of mental health disorders are also at a greater risk for developing avoidant personality disorder.
Treatment For Avoidant Personality Disorder
Psychotherapy has been shown to be particularly effective at helping those with ADP reduce negative thought patterns so they can learn how to feel more confident, and in turn, build stronger relationships.
If you or someone you know has a poor self-image, struggles to engage in social situations, and has few, if any close friends, avoidant personality disorder may be the cause. It’s important to speak with a licensed mental health professional as soon as possible to prevent complete social isolation and other complications from occurring. If you’re looking for a Beverly Hills psychologist who can help you cope with your symptoms and improve social functioning, we encourage you to reach out to Blair Wellness Group to schedule an appointment.
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