Avoidant Personality Disorder – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

We all have moments when we do not want to interact with other people. Whether it is due to social fatigue, brief periods of insecurity or low self-esteem, or because some of us are introverts, sometimes we want to be alone.

But because humans are social creatures who need each other to survive, we put up our big boy pants and let ourselves be known, and our voices heard. But for some people, this is not the case; these people suffer from an enduring and debilitating social anxiety and a fear of rejection.

This may be due to a condition known as avoidant personality disorder. An avoidant personality disorder is characterized by feelings of extreme shyness and social inhibition.

People who suffer from this disorder often feel inadequate and sensitive to negative criticism. They have a severe fear of rejection and are usually socially awkward. This can cause significant problems in their life as it affects their ability to interact with others and maintain a stable relationship.

People with avoidant personality disorder usually consider themselves unworthy and socially unappealing. They fear being rejected, ridiculed, humiliated, or disliked. They may go great lengths to avoid this or becoming involved with others unless they are sure that they would be liked.

An avoidant personality disorder may be attributed to childhood emotional neglect. It is, however, possible for the condition to occur without any history of neglect or abuse.

About 2.5 percent of the general population has this condition, and it is said to occur equally in both men and women. Avoidant personality disorder typically begins in childhood and continues into adulthood.

Causes Avoidant Personality Disorder

There is no known cause for avoidant personality disorder. However, genetic and environmental factors may play a significant role in the development of the condition.

There is a tendency for it to appear in certain families, and this may suggest that it can be inherited through genes. The disorder may also be triggered by environmental factors like parental abuse or neglect and peer rejection, which can have a significant impact on one’s self-esteem and self-worth.

Furthermore, there is no way of knowing who would develop the disorder. People who have avoidant personality disorder are typically shy as children—however, not everyone who is timid as a child goes on to develop the condition.

In the same vein, not every adult who is shy has an avoidant personality disorder. An avoidant personality disorder may begin to manifest at the point when you start avoiding other people or certain situations.

Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Below are common signs associated with avoidant personality disorder:

  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Social inhibition
  • Hypersensitive towards negative criticism or feedback
  • The overwhelming need to be liked
  • Anxiety over saying or doing the wrong thing
  • Lack of assertiveness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Being a people-pleaser
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Avoiding interaction in work environments
  • Avoiding social situations or events
  • Avoiding situations due to the fear of rejection
  • Negative self-image or self-worth
  • Self-isolation
  • Always on the lookout for signs of disapproval or rejection
  • No social network or close friends
  • Anxiety in social situations
  • Fearful and tense demeanor
  • Lack of pleasure in activities (Anhedonia)
  • Unwilling to try new things or take risks

Avoidant personality disorder has been associated with an anxiety disorder. Studies have shown that approximately nearly 40% of people with panic disorder and agoraphobia also have an avoidant personality disorder.

Another condition commonly found with this disorder is Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

People who are avoidant are often prone to self-loathing, and in some cases, self-harm. Substance abuse, particularly those dealing with alcohol, heroin, and benzodiazepines, are common with avoidant personality types.


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) of the American Psychiatric Association, a person is said to have avoidant personality disorder if they show four of the following symptoms.

  • Avoids occupational activities that involve significant contact with others, due to fears of criticism, disapproval, humiliation or rejection
  • Displays inhibition in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
  • Unwillingness to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
  • Restraint within intimate relationships because of fear of being ridiculed or shamed
  • Views self as socially awkward, unappealing, or inferior to others
  • Preoccupied with the fear of being criticized or rejected in social situations
  • Unusual reluctance to take engage in new activities or take personal risks that may have embarrassing consequences

Also, the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) by the World Health Organization (WHO) lists avoidant personality disorder as anxious personality disorder.

The condition is characterized by the presence of at least four of the following:

  • Avoidance of social activities that involve a high level of interpersonal contact because of fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
  • The belief that one is socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
  • Persistent and pervasive feelings of anxiety, tension, and apprehension
  • Overwhelming preoccupation with being criticized or rejected in social situations
  • Restrictions in lifestyle due to the need to have physical security
  • Unwillingness to become involved with people unless there is the certainty of being liked


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is the most effective method of treating avoidant personality disorder. The primary goal of therapy is to help identify the unconscious beliefs about yourself and how others perceive you.

It could also help identify triggers and help you function better socially and at work.

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps you become aware of your unconscious thoughts and understand how past experiences influence your current behavior.

This therapy enables you to examine and resolve past emotional pains, stress, and conflicts. Then you can move on in life with healthier self-worth and how others see you.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, on the other hand, helps you recognize and replace unhealthy beliefs and thought processes. The therapist will encourage you to examine your thoughts and beliefs and test them to see if they have a factual basis or merit.

They will also help you regulate your behavior and develop alternative, healthier thoughts.  There is no known medication that has been approved to treat this condition. Your doctor may, however, prescribe antidepressant medications if you have co-occurring depression or anxiety.

Victor Anunobi
Victor Anunobi is an environmentalist, writer and movie enthusiast living in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. He enjoys long walks, food and alternative music.

Trending Posts

How Many Plants Can a Canadian Legally Grow for Medical Reasons?

Growing medical marijuana is something that many Canadians have been legally doing since 2001. At this time, the first-ever medical marijuana laws were passed...

Eating Vaginal Discharge and It’s Health Benefits

For many people, vaginal discharge is a sign that a woman is ready and willing to have sex. Vaginal fluid is a whitish fluid...

Genital Warts: Do They Go Away Naturally? What to Expect?

Human Papilloma Virus is the causative organism for genital warts. The virus is available in various strains, and it can be contacted by many...

Skin Rashes: Causes, Symptoms and Effective Home Remedies

Skin rashes are common skin problems experienced by millions of people worldwide; it is characterized by a visible change in the color and texture...

Anklet Charms and Hot Wives What Do They Mean?

Women all over the world love to accessorise. From putting on necklaces to wearing makeup and buying the latest trending clothes, women are ready...

A Few Reasons Why Its OK to Go Braless

Having a bra on for long hours is one of the most uncomfortable things that a lady has to deal with almost every day....

Kinky Sex Punishment Ideas You Should Try

Is your submissive being a spoilt little brat? Are you noticing some unwanted behaviour? Do not be dismayed. Sometimes subs can be naughty, and...

Spider Bites: Symptoms, Treatment & Identification

Spider bites in the United States are often annoying but they are rarely fatal. If a person gets bitten by a black widow spider...

Trypophobia (Fear of Holes) – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Trypophobia (Fear of Holes) is defined as a condition whereby individuals experience an aversion or fear to clusters of tiny holes. This condition is triggered...

Keeping Your Man’s Penis Locked: Fitting and Measurement for a Chastity Device

So every woman wants to keep her man's penis for her use only. Every gay couple wants to do the same thing, and I...

How to Increase Sodium Levels in Your Blood?

Levels of sodium in the blood is often a misunderstood topic and it is extremely necessary that we as individuals understand the meaning and...


Stay Connected

Get our Wellness newsletter

Nurture yourself with health tips, wellness advice, and more.

Related Posts

The Best Diet That Protects Against Osteoporosis

According to the International Osteoporosis Institute, in the year 2000, there were an estimated 9 million new osteoporotic fractures, of which 1.6 million were...

Long Working Hours Linked to Enhancing Depression Risk in Women

Given that today’s work environment allows for round-the-clock access to work, it’s no wonder that more and more people are clocking in more hours....

Venustraphobia (Irrational Fear of Beautiful Women): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

We all have something we are afraid of, ranging from fear of inanimate objects such as fear of shadows to fear of animals such...

How Nursing Profession Has Impacted American History?

America is a great and famous nation with many sectors working together to make up a powerful and vibrant country full of opportunities for...

Leaky Gut Syndrome – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Leaky gut syndrome is a medical condition that has gained a lot of attention in recent years. In fact, it is a subject of...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.