Avoidant personality disorder (AvPD)
Overview of AvPD
Whereby an individual shows patterns of social inhibition, subjective inadequacy, and extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation. Individuals may intensely fear social judgement or rejection, avoiding jobs and other activities that are people-facing. These individuals may not engage with another person unless certain that they are liked by them and may resist intimacy due to fear of being shamed. Low self-esteem is usually present and a individual may refuse to take risks or try out new activities in case they embarrass themselves.
While the causes of AvPD are unclear, it is likely due to a combination of social, genetic and psychological factors. Certain inherited traits such as shyness and fearfulness and experiences of anxiety disorders in childhood may make individuals predisposed to develop avoidant personality disorder. Adverse childhood experiences such as emotional neglect or rejection by family and peers are also a risk factor for developing avoidant personality disorder.
Without treatment AvPD is unlikely to improve over time. However, with the correct treatment, progress and improvements can be made. Psychotherapy is the first line of treatment suggested for AvPD. Cognitive behavioural therapy can be a useful intervention in examining cognitive distortions and identifying negative thinking patterns, weighing up the reality of them and then replacing them with new ones. Social skills training can benefit an individual with AvPD by facilitating interaction and communication with people. While not used to treat AvPD itself, medications may be prescribed to treat individual symptoms, such as anxiety.