Avoidant personality disorder

Personality disorder - avoidant Last reviewed: November 23, 2010. Avoidant personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of feeling very shy, inadequate, and sensitive to rejection.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Personality disorders are lifelong patterns of behavior that cause problems with work and relationships. About 1% of the population has avoidant personality disorder. Both males and females have the condition equally. The cause is unknown.

People with avoidant personality disorder can't 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 will choose to be lonely rather than risk trying to connect with others.

Signs and tests
A person with avoidant personality disorder may:
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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

Antidepressant medications can often make people less sensitive to rejection. However, talk therapy (psychotherapy) is considered to be the most effective treatment for this condition.

Rauch SL. a person with avoidant personality disorder may become resigned to a life of near or total isolation. In: Stern TA.chap 39. Biederman J.Psychodynamic psychotherapy. Personality and personality disorders. Fava M. eds. and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. A combination of medication and talk therapy may be more effective than either treatment alone. Blais MA. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. . References 1. which helps patients understand their thoughts and feelings. They may go on to develop a second psychiatric disorder such as substance abuse or a mood disorder such as depression. Groves JE. Pa: Mosby Elsevier. Rivas-Vazquez RA. Rosenbaum JF. Complications Without treatment. and this can be improved with treatment. 2008. Philadelphia. Expectations (prognosis) People with this disorder may develop some ability to relate to others. Calling your health care provider See your health care provider or a psychiatrist if shyness or fear of rejection overwhelms your ability to function in life and relationships. Smallwood P. 1st ed.