Avoidant personality disorder (APD) is an enduring pattern of behavior related to social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and sensitivity to rejection that reason problems in work conditions and relationships. People with the disorder show a pattern of avoidance due to fear of rejection or disapproval, which they experience as extremely painful. The disorder affects about two and one-half percent of the population, with roughly equal numbers of men and women being afflicted.
The reason for an avoidant personality disorder is 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 if other factors are also present. Rejection by peers may similarly be a risk factor.
The following is a list of common symptoms associated with avoidant personality disorder:
- Social inhibition
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Hypersensitivity to negative evaluation
- Anxiety about saying or doing the wrong thing
- A need to be well-liked
- Avoiding situations due to fear of rejection
- Avoiding intimate relationships or sharing intimate feelings
- Avoiding social situations or events
Most people with an avoidant personality disorder do not seek treatment. When they do, it is often for a specific life problem they are experiencing or other types of symptoms such as depression and anxiety, and they will generally discontinue treatment if that problem is resolved.
Avoidant personality disorder can be hard to treat like other personality disorders because it is an enduring pattern of behavior