Avoidant Personality Disorder: Definition, Causes, and Symptoms

An estimated 2.4 percent of Americans have an avoidant personality disorder. It seems to have an equal impact on men and women. 

Equivalent to other personality disorders, avoidant personality disorder symptoms can be seen as early as childhood and frequently start to cause problems in adolescence or the early stages of adulthood. In contrast to many other personality disorders, avoidant personality disorder is typically not diagnosed in individuals under 18 because there must be proof that the exhibited behavior patterns are persistent, rigid, and unlikely to change with time.

Avoidant Personality Disorder symptoms

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What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Avoidant Personality disorders are long-lasting patterns of behavior that defy cultural expectations and hurt the people having them and those around them. Other personality disorders are characterized by panic and fear. They are grouped with an avoidant personality disorder. People with avoidant personality disorder frequently feel inadequate and are extremely sensitive to criticism from others. Despite wanting to socialize, they tend to avoid it because they are so afraid of being rejected by others.

What Causes Avoidant Personality Disorder?

It is unknown what explicitly causes avoidant personality disorder. But it’s thought that both genetics and the environment matter. Although this has not yet been specified, it is believed that avoidant personality disorders may run in families through genes. 

Environmental factors do have a significant impact, especially during childhood. In young children, shyness is frequent. However, shyness persists into adolescence and adulthood in people with an avoidant personality disorder. People with the disorder often talk about having been rejected by parents or peers in the past, which can affect one’s sense of value and self-worth.

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What Signs or Symptoms Indicate An Avoidant Personality Disorder?

For individuals with this disorder, the fear of rejection is so intense that they choose aloneness rather than risk being left in a relationship. People with this disorder can exhibit mild to severe behavioral patterns. They also have the following characteristics in addition to their fear of rejection and humiliation:

  • They take criticism or disapproval very personally and are overly sensitive.
  • They are hesitant to get involved with others unless they are sure they will be liked and have few close friends.
  • They have incredibly high levels of social anxiety (nervousness) and fear, which makes them avoid jobs or activities that require them to interact with others.
  • They frequently exhibit shyness, awkwardness, and self-consciousness out of a fear of appearing foolish or embarrassing.
  • They frequently overstate potential issues.
  • They hardly ever take risks or try anything new.
  • They have a negative self-perception and believe they are inadequate and inferior.


Treatment for avoidant personality disorder takes time, just like other personality disorders. The likelihood of treatment success and, consequently, the outlook can be significantly influenced by the patient’s willingness to seek and adhere to treatment. Some people living with avoidant personality disorder can improve their interpersonal relationships with the help of therapy.

We have often mentioned personality disorders in this blog post, but what is it? To know more in detail, click here.

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