What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder?
Mental health awareness is important. Avoidant personality disorder, also known as AvPD, is a mental condition in which an individual has a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation and shyness.
People with this disorder fear that they will be ridiculed or rejected by others for being inept in some way, so they often choose to isolate themselves from society.
The condition is one of the Cluster C personality disorders, which are characterized by being negative and emotional. Avoidant personality disorder differs from social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, in that it is not limited to situations involving other people. The disorder may have its roots in early childhood experiences with neglectful, overprotective parents or peers.
People with AvPD will often choose careers that involve little to no social interaction, such as computer programmer or artist.
Avoidant personality disorder is fairly common, affecting more than 4 per cent of the population in the United States alone. It is also more prevalent among men. If you are struggling with avoidant personality disorder, there are several treatment options available to you, including medication and psychotherapy.
There are several types of antidepressant medications that may be used to treat the symptoms of AvPD. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors ( SSRIs ), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and atypical antidepressants. These medications may be used in conjunction with certain sedative or antipsychotic drugs.
For severe symptoms, a psychiatrist may recommend hospitalization and/or ECT – electroconvulsive therapy, which involves the application of electrical currents to the brain with the aim of achieving controlled seizures. Although effective in some cases, there is controversy surrounding the use of ECT for people with AvPD.
There are also several types of psychotherapy that may be used in treating avoidant personality disorder. Behavioural therapy is focused on helping patients learn how to adjust their behaviour, which will help them overcome avoidance and social isolation tendencies. A variant of this called exposure therapy involves gradually exposing patients to the social situations or objects they fear in order to desensitize them.
Other forms of psychotherapy that may be used include cognitive behaviour therapy, interpersonal therapy, group therapy and family therapy. A psychiatrist will recommend a specific form of treatment based on your symptoms.
The prognosis for avoidant personality disorder depends heavily on the severity of symptoms present and the level of treatment. Fortunately, with proper treatment and therapy, most people with AvPD can live relatively normal lives.