What is avoidant personality disorder?
People with avoidant personality disorder (APD) have a lifelong pattern of extreme shyness. They also feel inadequate and are hypersensitive to rejection. APD can cause psychiatric symptoms that create serious problems with relationships and work.
Avoidant Personality Disorder :
Many of us struggle with shyness, but approximately two percent of the population suffer from avoidant personality disorder. Extreme shyness and fear of rejection make it difficult for some people to interact socially and professionally.
Personality disorders are long-lived patterns of behavior that cause problems with work and relationships. Avoidant personality disorder is a psychiatric condition characterized by a lifelong pattern of extreme social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and sensitivity to rejection. People with avoidant personality disorder may avoid work activities or decline job offers because of fears of criticism or disappointment from others. They may be inhibited in social situations as a result of low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. Additionally, they may be preoccupied with their own shortcomings and form relationships with others only if they think they will not be rejected. Loss and rejection are so painful to these individuals that they will choose loneliness rather than risk trying to connect with others. About two percent of the population, equally divided between the sexes, have this disorder.
Causes of avoidant personality disorder are unknown. Genes or a physical illness that changed the person’s appearance may play a role.
People with this disorder cannot stop thinking about their own shortcomings. They form relationships with other people only if they believe they will not be rejected. Loss and rejection are so painful that these people choose to be lonely rather than risk trying to connect with others.A person with avoidant personality disorder may:
♣ Be easily hurt when people criticize or disapprove of them
♣ Hold back too much in intimate relationships
♣ Be reluctant to become involved with people
♣ Avoid activities or jobs that involve contact with others
♣ Be shy in social situations out of fear of doing something wrong
♣ Make potential difficulties seem worse than they are
♣ Hold the view they are not good socially, not as good as other people, or unappealing
Avoidant Personality Disorder Treatment
Avoidant personality disorder treatment usually involves long-term psychotherapy led by a clinician with specific experience in treating the disorder. Treatment typically moves slowly at the beginning because people with avoidant personality disorder have a tendency to distrust others .
The therapist may also prescribe medications to help reduce the influence of certain symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.
Common avoidant personality disorder treatment approaches include:
# 1. Psychodynamic therapy
♠ With this approach, the therapist actively empathizes with the client’s painful inner experience to build the trust relationship. The goal of this approach involves helping the client develop a keen and accurate sense of self-awareness.
♠ The therapist then assists the client in identifying unconscious thought processes that influence his or her daily behavior. Through this process, the client can examine and find closure for conflicts and painful emotions stemming from past dysfunctional relationships.
♠ The therapist will then use talk therapy to guide the client in seeing connections between his or her deep personal shame and how it affects social and interpersonal functioning.
# 2.Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
♣ The CBT approach assumes distorted and inaccurate thinking patterns create the foundation for avoidant personality disorder. The therapist will use CBT techniques to change the distorted thought patterns by examining and refuting the truth of the assumptions surrounding them.
♣ For instance, suppose a client strongly believes he is inferior to others and that others would not like him or value his company.
♣ The therapist would test the validity of his belief by asking him to name some friends who do enjoy spending time with him. The therapist might also ask the client to talk about past social experiences that he enjoyed. In this way, the doctor shows the client that people do enjoy his company and that social activities can be fulfilling and fun.
♣ This illustrates, at least in one way that his fear and insecurity about social situations are irrational and unfounded. This represents a simplistic example of a technique used in CBT called cognitive restructuring.
# 3.Talk therapy
♣ Talk therapy is a therapeutic approach wherein the clinician leads the client in conversation about his or her experiences, attitudes and behaviors. It can be incorporated into any therapy approach.
♣ By maintaining a conversational dialogue about his or her fears, shame, and insecurities, a client learns to be less sensitive to criticisms and rejection. Therapists use talk therapy in both individual and group therapy settings.
# 4.Group therapy
♣ Most therapists would recommend waiting until the client has made some progress toward recovery before putting him or her in a group therapy environment. But for the client who is ready, group therapy can give the avoidant personality a positive social experience and help them accept feedback in a safe and controlled setting.
♣ Successful avoidant personality disorder therapy requires commitment for the long-term. It can be expensive, but it’s worth it if it helps the client function better in social and other situations where he or she must interact with others.