Avoidant personality disorder is a condition that is not well known to most people. It doesn’t get much attention in the press, since people with this disorder typically do whatever they can to avoid attention. But this is a very real condition. According to the National Institute of Health, only about one percent of the American population has avoidant personality disorder. Here are some examples of avoidant personality traits, but it is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list.
What is Avoidant Personality Disorder?
Avoidant personality disorder is an Axis II Personality Disorder as defined in the DSM-IV, which is the definitive guide for psychiatric diagnosis. Individuals with these types of disorders have difficulties in their daily lives and are more likely to have failed marriages, be unsuccessful parents, not function well in work environments and have trouble with the law. The disorder is also characterized by anxiety and excessive fear of social situations.
Avoidant Personality Traits
Avoidant Personality Disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of social isolation. Examples of avoidant personality traits include feelings of tension, anxiety, inadequacy and hypersensitivity to criticism and rejection. These personality traits become obstructive to daily life. The fear of rejection and criticism keeps those who suffer from the disorder from forming normal relationships.
Avoidant Personality Behaviors
Examples of avoidant personality behaviors include withdrawing from normal social situations, despite craving social interactions, having a negative self image, and being over sensitive to social stimulation and interactions, though these situations may be endured. People with avoidant personality disorder are more prone to having severe schizophrenic disorders as a result of severe distrust of others.
There is no “typical" case of avoidant personality disorder and they present equally among male and female patients at any age.
Other examples of avoidant personality symptoms include low energy, fatigue, cravings for chocolate and stimulants.
Complications Associated with Avoidant Personality Behaviors
Examples of complications associated with avoidant personality behaviors include substance abuse and secondary psychiatric problems. Since patients with Avoidant Personality Disorder do whatever they can to avoid any type of social situation where they feel they may face rejection or criticism, they often live in near total isolation which has been shown to cause mental health problems.
Substance abuse is also a risk associated with Avoidant Personality Disorder, as those who suffer with the condition will often try to self-medicate instead of risking the social interaction required to see a psychiatrist.
Treatment and Hope for the Future
There is hope and treatment for those with Avoidant Personality Disorder, but the challenge in treating these patients is that they often won’t seek out treatment because the disorder itself keeps them from reaching out to others to get the help for fear of criticism or ridicule. In the future, the challenge for those in the psychiatric community will be reaching these people to treat them.