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Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)
Avoidant Personality Disorder is characterized by a pattern of lifetime shyness, feeling inadequate or inferior, and extreme sensitivity to rejection or criticism. For a long time, doctors did not make much distinction between avoidant personality disorder and schizoid or dependent personality disorders. But in the last decade, these diagnoses have gotten more refined, and AvPD patients now have more specific diagnostic criteria. Avoidant Personality patients want close relationships but they are afraid of humiliation, or rejection. So these patients establish a distance between themselves and others. AvPD patients will scan their environment looking for possible threats. They are hypersensitive to rejection and criticism and will take small negative remarks to heart, feeling they are inferior and thinking only of their shortcomings. They have low self-esteem and will devalue even the most impressive of their accomplishments. AvPD patients are shy and apprehensive around others, and they often seem sad, lonely, and anxious. Under extreme stress they may talk about feelings of emptiness. Avoidant Personality Disorder patients function at different levels. The patient with the avoidant ‘style’ leads a relatively normal life, while those with the classic ‘avoidant disorder’ struggle to function. The disorder may be hereditary, and has been identified in infants as young as four months of age. It is believed that trauma, emotional or physical abuse, parental anxiety and overprotection can also contribute to AvPD. In studies, the degree of parental rejection among AvPD patients is particularly high. And if parental or family rejection is compounded by peer rejection the patient will be more heavily predisposed toward a personality disorder.
What are the symptoms?
How is it diagnosed and treated?
To diagnose Avoidant Personality Disorder, doctors will look for a pattern of inhibition, and expressed feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to criticism. This pattern typically begins by early adulthood and includes four or more of the following signs:
Treatment(s) can include:
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