Avoidant personality disorder is a group of symptoms which include pervasive patterns of feeling of inadequacy, social inhibition, elevated sensitivity to negative comments and avoiding social interactions. This condition is defined under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental disorders and classified under Cluster C personality disorders.
There is a lot of ambiguity over differentiating the condition from generalized social phobia, though experts suggest that avoidant personality is a more severe form of the condition.
Avoidant Personality Disorder Causes
Avoidant personality develops during early childhood and is primarily attributed to emotional neglect and rejection by the peer group. In addition there are a host of social, psychological and genetic factors which influence the condition,
- The disorder is linked to the temperament of an individual which is usually inherited. These temperaments include anxiety, fear and need to withdraw from situation.
- Social factors include lack of parental involvement and subsequent rejection by the peer group.
Symptoms Of Avoidant Personality Disorder
Individuals with this disorder are over conscious of their shortcomings and hence don’t interact with others unless they are sure that they will not be rejected. This prevents them from interacting with others and they prefer to remain isolated.
- Self-imposed social isolation
- Increased sensitivity to criticism or rejection
- Anxious or shy to interact with people in a social gathering
- Sensation of inadequacy with low self esteem
- Mistrust and self-critical of problem related to others
- Inferiority complex and agoraphobia
Such individuals often use fantasy to escape from their painful thoughts.
The condition has been classified into four different categories, based on the presence of the dominant symptoms,
- Phobic, which primarily includes the features of dependency
- Conflicted, which primarily includes the features of self-defeating personality
- Hypersensitivity which includes symptoms of paranoia
- Self-deserting which has depression related symptoms
Do I Have Avoidant Personality Disorder?
While the manifestation of the condition may vary widely, experts suggest that it is highly prevalent in individuals suffering from anxiety disorders. Reports suggest that about 10 to 50% of individuals with panic disorder have avoidant personality while the condition is prevalent in about 20 to 40% of individuals with social phobia. The prevalence is highest (about 50%) among individuals with generalized anxiety disorder.
In general the prevalence of the condition ranges from 0.5 to 1% in general population and is as high as 10% in psychiatric patients.
Hence, if you suffer from anxiety disorder, there is a possibility that you may manifest symptoms of avoidant personality disorder, in varied degrees.
How To Deal With Avoidant Personality Disorder?
This disorder can be managed using a variety of techniques including cognitive therapy, social skills and behavioral therapy. Experts recommend use of social interactions using group therapies to improve social skills.
The focus of the counseling and treatment therapy is to gain the individuals trust and help him/her cope with exaggerated negative beliefs about self. While the treatment therapy can help improve social interactions, the deep rooted feelings of inferiority and social fear can’t be changed significantly, without behavioral change in the individual.
Homeopathy can be helpful in dealing with such stressful situations. Drugs like Arg Nitricum and Arsenic Alba can help alleviate anxiety and apprehension. Mood foods like fresh fruits and dairy products can also help boost morale and induce confidence and help create a relaxing sensation.