How To Recognise Avoidant Personality Disorder?
Avoidant personality disorder (APD) might be confused with shyness, however, it’s more than just a personality trait or being socially awkward.
What Is the Difference Between Avoidant Personality Disorder and Social Phobia?
On the surface, avoidant personality disorder seems identical to social phobia as both share similarities such as low self-esteem and self-isolation. Just like in the case of social phobia, a person with this disorder avoids social situations because of fear of being rejected or criticised. However, someone with avoidant personality disorder strongly believes they’re worthless and inadequate while a person with a phobia realises their anxiety doesn’t reflect the reality. Additionally, avoidant personality disorder is a Cluster C personality disorder which means people who suffer from it exhibit rigid patterns of thoughts and behaviours that affect their daily functioning.
Do I Have Avoidant Personality Disorder?
If you suffer from APD, you’re so sensitive to criticism that you might perceive many comments as such. You might want to engage in social situations and have a strong desire to belong but avoid them unless you’re sure you’re liked. You might feel extreme anxiety in social situations and avoid speaking up in fear of being embarrassed. You might rarely go out of your comfort zone and see yourself as inferior to others. You might yearn for intimacy but see yourself as unworthy of an emotional connection. It’s estimated that around 1.5-2.5 % of the population suffer from APD. 
What Causes Avoidant Personality Disorder?
The exact cause is unknown, however, it’s believed to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors. You’re more likely to develop this disorder if you struggled with shyness in childhood.
What Is the Best Treatment for APD?
One of the most popular options to treat avoidant personality disorder is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that targets and helps modify thoughts that worsen the symptoms. For example, beliefs such as “I’m worthless”. Another treatment of choice is Psychodynamic Therapy that helps explore the reasons behind these negative beliefs. For example, you might have been bullied in the past that contributed to the development of the disorder.
Avoidant personality disorder can be difficult to treat but improving your symptoms is possible. Contact My Family Psychologist to explore your options.