Avoidant personality disorder is a mental health disorder in which sufferers feel extremely shy, inadequate, and sensitive to negative criticism and rejection. Sufferers frequently feel very reserved in public, and will avoid public situations for fear of rejection due to their social awkwardness; this often causes additional problems, including low self esteem and depression.
More than just being "shy" or "awkward in public" though, avoidant personality disorder causes frequent, daily problems in the lives of those who have it. Difficulty in making and maintaining relationships, and difficulty interacting with others are the two biggest issues for those who suffer from avoidant personality disorder. As mentioned, these two issues cause other issues as well, including depression, anxiety, and low self esteem.
A diagnoses of avoidant personality disorder will not be made on children and adolescents, because for these two groups avoidant behavior is a natural part or their maturing process. Mental health professionals will give a diagnoses of avoidant personality disorder to an adult patient if he or she show at least four of the following behaviors:
- A preoccupation with being criticized or rejected in social situations
- A self view of being socially awkward, not as good as others, or unlikable to others
- Reluctance to create new relationships unless they feel the other person will definitely like them
- Extreme restraint in intimate relationships, caused by fear of rejection, teasing, or criticism
- Avoidance of jobs that involve personal communication with others, caused by fear of reject, teasing, or criticism
- Holding back in new interpersonal situations, caused by fear of not having the right social skills to connect
- Reluctance to take risks or try new activities, caused by fear of embarrassment
Once a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder is made, a mental health professional will design a treatment plan for the patient. This treatment plan will specifically addresses the patients particular form of avoidant personality disorder. Therapy will be the main treatment option, and avoidant personality disorder medications will be used to treat other conditions that are commonly found with this disorder.
For example, many who suffer from avoidant personality disorder also suffer from depression, anxiety and/or borderline personality disorder. Avoidant personality disorder medications are used to treat the physical effects of these additional conditions, so that the patient can focus on developing other coping mechanisms.
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