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Psychology
Published: April 24, 2017

Alert: If You Always Avoid Things You Fear, You May Have This Issue

Most of us can relate to wanting to avoid things that make us uncomfortable – situations, people, and even work. Sometimes, we deliberately find ways to get out of confronting whatever makes us feel ill at ease. But Avoidant Personality Disorder is much more than just this.

Unlike other Cluster C personality disorders that may sound more familiar, Avoidant Personality Disorder is not as well known. The National Institute of Mental Health 1 estimates that around 5% of adults in the USA have it. It is characterized by patterns of social inhibition, feelings of inferiority or inadequacy, and sensitivity to negative responses. And as its name indicates, individuals tend to avoid situations that trigger those emotions.

Signs of Avoidant Personality Disorder 2

  • Reluctance to be involved with people unless certain they will be liked.
  • Avoidance of activities (whether professional or personal) that would require significant contact with others due to fear of rejection or criticism.
  • Unwillingness to try new things due to shyness or feelings of inadequacy, particularly in social situations.
  • Sensitivity to criticism, rejection, or disapproval.
  • Difficulty with building intimate relationships because of fears and insecurities.
  • Feelings of being socially inept, inferior, or unappealing to others. As a result, there are tendencies to have extremely low self-esteem.

What Causes It?

The cause of Avoidant Personality Disorder is still undiscovered, but scientists believe that it may stem from genetics or as a result of childhood environments, such as experiencing emotional neglect from parents or peers.

What is known, however, is that symptoms first start manifesting from infancy or early childhood. The child will display shyness, isolation, or discomfort with new places or people. Often times, children who do exhibit these tendencies grow out of it, but those with the disorder will become even more shy and isolated with age.

Having Avoidant Personality Disorder creates quite a limiting existence for those who have it. It causes physical, emotional, psychological, and social restrictions that affect day-to-day life. It proves to be challenging for both the person who has it and those around them. Learning more the disorder would enable you to help someone who may be affected. And the good news is that there are things that can be done to improve life quality.

Is there a cure for Avoidant Personality Disorder ?

There is no “cure” per se, however, the right treatment 3 can certainly improve the standard of living for sufferers and their loved ones.

Therapy

Finding a psychotherapist who specializes in this particular field is said to be quite helpful. It will assist with addressing the underlying issues and promoting better dynamics in both personal and professional life.

Building rapport may be initially difficult for the person, so it would be normal for someone with this disorder to feel like they want to stop the treatment in the early stages. But once trust is formed, the relationship will help to create a stable environment where the issues can be confronted.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy where the specialist places a lot of emphasis on the thought process, in particular, the beliefs that harbor negative or unhealthy feelings. The objective is to test those ideas in a more rational way and examine if there is any factual evidence for them. Patients may be invited to write down their thoughts and examine how they can replace these views with something more positive.

Medication

There is currently no medication that is specific for Avoidant Personality Disorder, but doctors can prescribe things such as antidepressants for depression or anxiety, which are often common among those with the disorder.

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