All You Need to Know About Avoidant Personality Disorder

December 4, 2022

5 min read


Suppose you’ve ever wondered why some people seem to push others away constantly or why they avoid social interaction altogether. In that case, it might be due to a personality disorder called Avoidant Personality Disorder. This is a mental health condition that leads those affected to feel extreme social anxiety and fear. As a result, they often stay away from social situations and close relationships. If you think you or someone you know might be dealing with this condition, read for more information about this disorder, its symptoms, causes, ways to test for it and treatments.

What is an avoidant personality disorder?

In a nutshell, an avoidant personality disorder is a mental disorder characterized by feelings of severe social anxiety, inadequacy and low self-esteem. People with this disorder often avoid social situations and activities for fear of rejection or criticism. They may also have difficulty forming close relationships due to their need for approval from others.

Symptoms of avoidant personality disorder

Individuals with an avoidant personality disorder may experience various symptoms that can interfere with daily functioning and negatively impact their quality of life. Common symptoms of avoidant personality disorder include:

  • They avoid social situations and interactions due to fear of embarrassment or rejection. While it is common to have some nervousness when dealing with new problems, for people with avoidant personality disorder, it can be crippling.
  • I felt inadequate or unworthy due to negative experiences during my formative years.
  • You are extremely sensitive to criticism, or negative feedback is a byproduct of trauma or brain chemistry.
  • Low self-worth and nervousness lead to little to no social interactions, compounding into low self-esteem.
  • The fear of being hurt or rejected forces people with an avoidant personality disorder to withdraw from others.
  • I am holding back emotions or appearing distant or uninvolved to avoid intimacy.
  • They are preoccupied with negative thoughts and feelings about themselves, forming a vicious feedback loop that further cements their negative self-belief.

What causes avoidant personality disorder?

There are several possible causes of avoidant personality disorder, including genetic factors, early childhood experiences and brain structure.

Genetic factors: Genetic factors may play a role in the development of avoidant personality disorder, as the condition is more common in people with a family history of psychiatric disorders. However, this cause has not been proven to be linked to avoidant personality disorder.

Environmental factors: Early childhood experiences may contribute to the development of avoidant personality disorder, particularly if the child experiences abuse, trauma or neglect. This manifests into a form of shyness that lasts well into adulthood. Trauma can come from decay, negative scrutiny from parents or peers, or both.

Brain structure: The makeup of the brain may also cause avoidant personality disorder as people with this disorder tend to have a smaller hippocampus – this is the brain region that controls memory and emotions.

How to diagnose an avoidant personality disorder

There are many different ways to diagnose avoidant personality disorder. A general physician or doctor will first check if the symptoms are related to any physical condition, illness or injury. To do this, it is essential to provide all medical history and details to the doctor so they can better understand your situation. If they successfully rule out that the state is not due to any physical factor, they will refer you to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. They are mental-health specialists who diagnose conditions like avoidant personality disorders through standard practices and symptoms mentioned in DSM 5, a psychological textbook used by these doctors to diagnose a whole host of mental health conditions. Based on the severity and root cause of the disease, they will suggest a likely treatment.

Treatment of avoidant personality disorder

Now that the disorder has been diagnosed, it is time to look for possible treatment options. While there is no cure for avoidant personality disorder, treatment can help lessen the symptoms and improve the person’s quality of life.

Treatment of avoidant personality disorder


  • Treatment typically involves psychotherapy, which can help the person learn to interact with others more effectively and feel more comfortable in social situations. Psychotherapy consists of cognitive and behaviour therapy, wherein the patient’s thoughts, actions and beliefs are challenged and changed. It helps them to face their fears without feeling overwhelmed or out of their depth, as it is an incremental process.
  • The treatment for avoidant personality disorder might also involve some form of psychiatric medication, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety pills. These will help those with severe symptoms gain control during triggering episodes. In most cases, psychotherapy in conjunction with medication is the best way to tackle this condition.
  • Another positive aspect of avoidant personality disorder is that since it causes so much mental distress, patients are more willing and responsive to treatment. Therefore, with the proper guidance and encouragement, this condition can be mitigated or, at the very least, lessened in the long term.



In summary, an avoidant personality disorder is a severe mental illness that can profoundly impact every aspect of a person’s life. It is characterized by low self-esteem, extreme shyness and fear of criticism, which leads to avoidant behaviours. Environmental and genetic factors can cause it, but luckily, treatment is possible in all cases. So if you or someone you know is struggling with avoidant personality disorder, it’s essential to seek professional help. There are treatment options available that can make a world of difference. People with avoidant personality disorder can lead happy, fulfilling lives with the proper support.

To find effective treatments for avoidant personality disorder, contact us at United We Care. We are an online mental health platform geared towards people who need help and support regarding their mental well-being. Contact us today, and based on your condition, we will contact a licensed therapist immediately.

Overcoming fear of failure through Art Therapy​

Ever felt scared of giving a presentation because you feared you might not be able to impress the audience?


Make your child listen to you.

Online Group Session
Limited Seats Available!