An avoidant Personality disorder is classified under Cluster C personality disorders. It is a mental health issue that causes difficulty in a person’s day-to-day life.

This article will provide insight into what the avoidant personality disorder means, its causes, and the possible treatment.

What is Avoidant Personality Disorder

An avoidant personality disorder is defined as an uncontrollable feeling of social inhibitions when it comes to socializing and dating. It is also characterized by an extreme sensitivity to negative criticism or rejection. This personality disorder causes a high level of problems that can have an effect on a person’s ability to interact with others and keep relationships. 

According to studies, 1% of the total world population have avoidant personality disorder. It is not uncommon for people to confuse shyness for avoidant personality disorder. Therefore, we will discuss the symptoms of this disorder in the next paragraph.

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There are four types of avoidant personality disorder because most people with this disorder have a mix of symptoms. The following are the four types:

  1. Phobic:  This is when a person has an extreme fear of some situations or certain objects.
  2. Self-deserting: This is when a person avoids the feeling of self-awareness
  3. Conflicted: This is when a person experiences paroxysmal, confusion, and the feelings of being worried.
  4. Hypersensitive: This is when a person is highly suspicious and distrustful in a way that makes them panic.

Signs and Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant Personality disorder is characterized by different kinds of symptoms and signs which includes:

  1. Avoidance of school, work, or any social gathering due to fear of rejection.
  2. Avoidance of any form of criticism. A person who has avoidant personality disorder may even reject promotion at work so as to avoid criticism from coworkers and subordinates.
  3. Avoids taking risks of any kind.
  4. Constantly feeling inferior to others because of low self-esteem.
  5. Consistently self-isolating. 
  6. Fear of speaking in a public gathering. A person with an avoidant personality disorder often gets scared of stammering, blushing too much, acting wrong, or saying something wrong in public.
  7. People with an avoidant personality disorder may constantly feel like they are frequently unwelcome in social situations, even when that is not the case. This is because people with this disorder have a low threshold for negative feedback which makes them feel they are inferior to others.
  8. It is also common for people with an avoidant personality disorder to spend most of their time studying people around them so as to detect some signs of approval or rejection from those people.

Take this: Schizoid Personality Disorder Test

Oftentimes, a person with avoidant personality disorder feels socially inept and is very much aware of being uncomfortable in social gatherings. Despite being aware of this fact, comments that mention their nervousness seem like a criticism of your person even when you are just being teased in a sincere way about your avoidance of social situations. 

Causes of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant Personality disorder can be caused by environmental factors and also by the individual’s genes. For example, a person can have an inborn nervousness or anxiety for social gatherings, and there’s a possibility that the person experienced rejection and marginalization as a child.

Multiple studies have observed that avoidant personality disorder is present in children who are as young as 2 although the diagnosis comes at a more older age.

Avoidant Personality Disorder vs Shyness or Social Anxiety

Avoidant Personality disorder and social anxiety have similar conditions but both are different mental health conditions. It is easy for people to mix the two up, however, social anxiety is specifically tied to a person’s fear of social situations due to fear of self embarrassment in public. 

It is reported that about 75% of young people between the ages of 8-15 are diagnosed with social anxiety. Avoidant personality disorder on the other hand involves observable patterns of avoidance in every aspect of a person’s life. 

Several studies also suggest that about 20-40% of people who have a social phobia also have avoidant personality disorder.

Take this: Dissociative Identity Disorder Test

Therefore, people with social anxiety may avoid a few specific situations while being aware that their fears are irrational. But the people with avoidant personality disorder believe they are inferior to others hence they deserve to be humiliated and rejected. 

How Avoidant Personality Disorder Affects Students

Low self-esteem and inferiority to others may have adverse effects on students. A researcher had a significant interaction with some students that showed that those with highly avoidant personalities felt negative about themselves. 

Furthermore, they felt people passed subtle criticism about their persons. This suggests that these students’ self-esteem is dependent on the feedback from others. 

Read: How to Reach Quiet Kids in the Classroom (Selective Mutism)

Hence, many students may dread attending classes or participating in social activities or sports that would require comments or criticism from others. As much as possible, they try to avoid responding to questions from their peers and their instructors.

They are also likely to decline an invite to an after-school hangout or get-together.

Other Effects of Avoidant Personality Disorder

There are other conditions associated with avoidant personality disorder. Research suggests that people with an avoidant personality disorder also experience extreme nervousness in social gatherings.

They also experience emotional separation that makes them have difficulties maintaining relationships. They constantly live in fear of making a mistake or doing something wrong.

They also have several possible psychological disturbances when the disorder is untreated and this can affect their mental health. 

Diagnosing Avoidant Personality Disorder in Students

A mental health professional will diagnose avoidant personality disorder based on specific symptoms, such as when a person feels inferior to others or avoids situations that involve interpersonal contact. Or when a person is self-isolated so as not to be rejected by others or humiliated. 

A doctor will carefully examine all the symptoms so that the case of social phobia or anxiety can be ruled out before the diagnosis.  

Take this: Histrionic Personality Disorder Quiz

Diagnosing Avoidant Personality Disorder with Formplus

To test for this personality disorder in yourself or your students, you can answer some personal questions in this template

Explore: Free Avoidant Personality Disorder Test

Treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder

People with symptoms of avoidant personality disorder should visit a mental health professional and get evaluated. Your mental health professional will design a suitable treatment plan for you.

This is because the treatment for avoidant personality disorder varies. And other conditions such as depression must be considered before medications are prescribed.

Therefore, it is recommended that people with avoidant personality disorder should consider cognitive-behavioral therapy, as it may be of immense benefit to them. They can also try psychotherapies, and get antidepressants and antianxiety drugs as recommended by their Doctor.

Their family and friends are also important in the recovery process as they can provide support and inspiration when therapy becomes difficult. You can also try support groups for guidance and accountability especially when you’re done with medications and therapy.

Read: What are the 16 Personality Types? By [Myer Briggs] + Free Tests


If you have been struggling with avoidant personality disorder or you know someone who has, seek the appropriate avoidant personality disorder treatment, and you are one step towards recovery. Reach out to a mental health professional to help you start appropriate treatment so you can have a life with uninhibited potential. 

  • busayo.longe
  • on 6 min read


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