Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)
Avoidant Personality Disorder is a mental health disorder characterised by excessive social anxiety and inhibition, a fear of intimacy, strong feelings of inadequacy or inferiority and a strong reliance on using avoidance and safety behaviours to defend against perceived threats to the self.
Those affected by avoidant personaility disorder display very high sensitivity to being negatively evaluated by others believing that they are likely to be rejected due to a lack of social skills.
Paradoxically, AvPD sufferers usually have a deep seated desire for social connection but fear that they are inept at nurturing it.
Typically, sufferers tend to be highly selective and cautious about building social connections and will not commit unless they can be absolutely sure that they won’t be rejected.
This can often lead to relationships being abandoned pre-emptively because of the fear of inevitable rejection.
In a sense this is a case of “reject them before they reject you”.
Avoidant personality disorder affects men and woman in approximately equal numbers.
Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms
The main symptoms associated with Avoidant Personality Disorder are:
- Pre-occupation with own shortcomings.
- Reluctance to form relationships.
- Inability to recognise their own positive traits.
- A preference to be alone.
- A sense of being unworthy.
- Attachment related anxiety.
- Feelings of abandonment.
- Alcohol or drug abuse (as coping strategies)
Many of these symptoms can be linked to childhood avoidant attachment styles that have remained constant into adulthood.
Diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder
Technically, only a psychiatrist can diagnose an Avoidant Personality Disorder, but in the UK general practitioners have tended to diagnose mental health problems by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
The DSM lists specific symptoms against a range of disorders and whenever a person meets this criteria, they are said to be suffering from that disorder.
Diagnostic procedures do NOT make use of medical testing (for example blood tests) in order to produce a diagnosis, but rather is an opinion based on the observation of certain behaviours in the person who is suffering.
Because of this lack of verifiable medical testing, diagnosis remains a controversial subject, particularly within the psychological (non-medical) community.
However, in the UK access to support services is often contingent on receiving a diagnosis, so in this sense, a formal diagnosis may be useful.
Getting a Mental Health Diagnosis
Please be aware that Lee Psychology do not diagnose mental health disorders.
Our psychological counselling services do not require you to have been formally diagnosed but should you wish to obtain a formal mental health diagnosis, then please contact your GP who can arrange it for you.
Therapy & Counselling for Avoidant Personality Disorder
We offer a number of different types of therapy and counselling for Avoidant Personality Disorder and related problems.
Choosing the most suitable therapy depends on a number of different considerations including factors such as:
- How long you have had the problem.
- Your personal preferences.
- How your problem is affecting you today.
You can read more about the different types of therapy for anxiety on the following links:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Avoidant Personality Disorder
- The CORE programme for Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Counselling for Avoidant Personality Disorder
Although all therapies use slightly different approaches, the one thing they all have in common is the relationship that is formed between the client and therapist.
Research suggests that this therapy relationship may be the most important factor in achieving a good therapy outcome.
Psychiatry Through the Looking Glass
Read what the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) and the United Nations (U.N.) said recently about the biomedical models of mental illness on Psychology Today.
Common Mental Disorders
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Dependent Personality Disorder
- Depersonalisation Disorder
- Dissociative Identity Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
- Prolonged Grief Disorder
- Separation Anxiety Disorder