By Alex Hu
What Is It?
Avoidant Personality Disorder is a personality disorder where those afflicted have a crippling fear of social rejection and judgement. As a result, they withdraw from social situations to avoid facing any potential rejection or judgement from other people. People with this disorder often feel like they are imposters and that they will not be able to meet the standards of others. 1 in 40 Americans is believed to have this disorder and it does not appear to affect one gender more than the other. The cause is currently unknown, but some theories include genetics and environment.
Symptoms include being very easily hurt by remarks or criticisms, having only a few close friends, having low self esteem, viewing themselves in a very negative light, awkwardness and self consciousness in conversations, and extreme (and even crippling) anxiety. These are the most common signs of anxiety personality disorder. However, there are other less common symptoms and the signs listed above should not be viewed as the only ones.
Currently, there are no ways to prevent avoidant personality disorder; however, there are options for treating it that have a good track record. According to the Cleveland Clinic, patients with avoidant personality disorder tend to be great patients for treatment because they are extremely motivated to overcome their distress and interact with others. Psychotherapy is currently viewed by mental health professionals as the most effective treatment option. In psychotherapy, the patient works with a therapist to change how they think and behave to overcome the patient’s fears and to help them be able to interact with others socially. Antidepressants and/or anti anxiety medications along with support from close friends and family members can be used as a supplement to psychotherapy and greatly aid the treatment process.