Avoidance Personality Disorder: Extreme Shyness?

Known as Avoidance Personality Disorder it is a type of personality disorder characterized by the avoidance of social relationships taken to the extreme. To sum it up very superficially, this is a disorder in which shyness produced by fear of portraying badly in front of others leads the person to isolate himself and avoid interacting with others.

Then we will see the symptoms, causes and treatments used to improve the well-being of people diagnosed with this disorder.

What is Avoidance Personality Disorder?

Also known as Anxiety Personality Disorder or simply Avoidance Disorder, this disorder is characterized by strong social inhibition. This means that people with this pattern of behavior always try to maintain a very low profile, not to attract attention and whenever they can stay away from others.

In the DSM IV diagnostic manual, belongs to group C of personality disorders, Anxiety disorders, as well as addictive personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.


The main symptoms of avoidance personality disorder are the following. In any case, it should be clear that the diagnosis of this disorder (and that of other psychological disorders) can only be made by a mental health professional, looking at it on a case-by-case basis.

1. Deliberate isolation

People with this disorder they are confined to their homes or their rooms for much longer than normal periods of time and, if possible, avoid having relationships with other people.

2. Anxiety in social contexts

When people are nearby, especially if they are strangers, it is common that signs of anxiety appear, Such as increased heart rate, tremors, and difficulty speaking (which prevents speaking). Therefore, their social skills are bad.

    3. Extreme sensitivity to criticism

    Negative reviews from others Self-managed have devastating effects on people with avoidance personality disorder, making them feel humiliated and rejected with great ease.

    4. Low self-esteem

    Another characteristic of these people is that they have very little confidence in their abilities, And a clear sense of inferiority is reflected in their beliefs.

      5. Escape from fantasies

      These people tend to fantasize frequently how they would like their life to be.

      6. Mistrust

      The fear of giving a bad public image makes one tend to distrust others in the face of the expectation that one’s own inferiority and try to take advantage of the situation.

      7. Constant state of surveillance

      Avoidance disorder is associated with a continuous state of alert, Through which the environment is examined to discover potential threats.

      8. Avoidance of physical contact

      This kind of experiences they have been associated with unpleasant experiencesScary or painful, so try not to repeat them.

      Differential diagnosis and similar disorders

      Very often, avoidance personality disorder occurs in people with agoraphobia; about 15% of patients diagnosed with the second also have the first. As for people suffering from social phobiaAbout 30% of them also have an avoidance disorder.

      These diagnostic categories belong to Anxiety Disorders, the fundamental difference with Avoidance Personality Disorder is that in this second the person focuses much of their fear and worry on the reactions of others instead of focusing. essentially on itself.

      However, the relationship between avoidance disorder and social phobia is still much debated, and in many cases it is difficult to tell them apart, although some studies attribute social phobia to a slightly lower level of anxiety.

        the causes

        Like any mental disorder with complex characteristics, the root of avoidance personality disorder is believed to be multicausal, and therefore it is unrealistic to assign it a single trigger mechanism. However, in the absence of further research in this regard, it is considered that the first experiences of isolation and lack of emotional ties during childhood and adolescence it plays a very important role.

        Having taught the person that rejection is the normal experience that comes “by default”, he assimilates the idea that rejection from others is inevitable and will appear in every social interaction.


          Psychological treatments for avoidance personality disorder are based on cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of intervention allows change beliefs on which low self-esteem is based, and at the same time offers a context in which to learn new habits to socialize by removing anxiety and fear.

          In the same way, social skills training it also has beneficial effects and improves a person’s chances of acquiring the skills necessary to find work and gain autonomy.

          Regarding the use of psychotropic drugsThese are only used when absolutely necessary and to treat symptoms related to anxiety already associated.

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