Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is one of a group of conditions called anxious personality disorders, which are marked by feelings of nervousness and fear. In avoidant personality disorder, extreme shyness and fear of rejection make it difficult for people to interact socially and professionally. People with avoidant personality disorder frequently have other psychological conditions. For a while, avoidant personality disorder was thought to be a type of social anxiety disorder. However, it is now accepted that they are two different disorders, but are similar in many ways and often co-occur in the same people.

People with avoidant personality disorder may avoid work activities or decline job offers because of fears of criticism from others. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
  • No close friends
  • Reluctance to become involved with people
  • Shyness in social situations out of fear of doing something wrong
  • Exaggeration of potential difficulties
  • Showing excessive restraint in intimate relationships
  • Unwilling to take risks or try new things because they may prove embarrassing

Causes of avoidant personality disorder are thought to involve genetic, environmental, social, and psychological factors. Emotional abuse, criticism, ridicule, or lack of affection or nurturing by a parent may result in the development of this personality disorder. Rejection by peers may similarly be a risk factor.

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