Do you, or does someone you love, avoid social situation where there will be lots of people, due to feelings of not being welcome? How about self esteem? Do you, or the person you are worried about, feel inferior to others, and have a low tolerance for criticism and teasing, even light-hearted joking? If so, then these could be tell-tale signs that you, or the person you love, is suffering from a mental health issue known as avoidant personality disorder.
A mental health disorder, avoidant personality disorder is characterized by feelings of inferiority, sensitivity, and social inhibition. While these types of feelings are common among many people, especially children and teens, most people can easily handle their social nervousness. But for people with avoidant personality disorder, these feelings are not easily managed, and instead significantly impact their daily lives.
For example, someone with avoidant personality disorder might avoid certain jobs because of their social fears, and instead seek out careers that bring them little contact with criticism, rejection, or disapproval. They might also hold back from new activities, even ones they think they might enjoy, for fear of being rejected and not being liked. These types of behaviors, and the fears behind them, can have a significant, negative impact on the relationships of those who have avoidant personality disorder.
Mental health professionals will diagnose a person with avoidant personality disorder if they show at least four of seven different criteria. Tell-tale signs of these criteria might look like this:
1. Choosing self-employment over a job working for someone else, and with other employees, even if the other job pays significantly more.
2. Only agreeing to meet a new person after making sure that the other person will not be rejecting.
3. Holding back personal details and affection from a new boyfriend or girlfriend, for fear of what the other person might say (criticize).
4. Constanly thinking, worrying about, and fearing the idea of being criticized or rejected at an upcoming event like a friend's wedding.
5. Holding back and not talking around new people, because of feelings of not being good enough or social enough.
6. Referring to oneself as "socially inept," "not good enough," or "not appealing".
7. Turning down an invitation to a dance class, for fear of being embarrassed.
These are just a few examples of what the seven criteria for avoidant personality disorder might look like in real life. So if you or someone you love is showing more than one of these tell-tale signs, a mental health professional might be able to help.
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