Understanding and Coping with Avoidant Personality Disorder
Most of us have experienced the desire to avoid situations, people, or even work that makes us uncomfortable. However, for individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD), the discomfort is much more than just an unpleasant feeling. It is a psychological disorder characterized by patterns of social inhibition, inadequacy, and sensitivity to negative responses.
AVPD is not a widely-known disorder, but the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that around 5% of adults in the USA have it. The symptoms of AVPD include reluctance to interact with people unless they will be liked, avoiding activities that require contact with others due to fear of rejection or criticism, and reluctance to try new things due to shyness or feelings of inadequacy, particularly in social situations. Additionally, individuals with AVPD have difficulty building intimate relationships because of their fears and insecurities, and they often feel socially inept, inferior, or unappealing to others, which result in extremely low self-esteem.
The cause of AVPD is still unknown, but researchers believe that it may stem from genetics or childhood environments such as experiencing emotional neglect from parents or peers. Often, symptoms begin to manifest from infancy or early childhood with children displaying shyness, isolation, or discomfort with new people or places. While some children may outgrow these tendencies, people with AVPD tend to become even more shy and isolated with age.
AVPD severely limits the lives of those with the disorder, causing physical, emotional, psychological, and social restrictions that affect day-to-day life. However, there are ways to improve life quality for those with the disorder. While there is no cure for AVPD, there are treatments that can improve the standard of living for sufferers and their loved ones.
Psychotherapy is one of the most helpful and effective treatments for individuals with AVPD. Finding a psychotherapist who specializes in AVPD can help address underlying issues and promote better dynamics in both personal and professional life. Initially, building rapport may be challenging for individuals with AVPD, but the therapeutic relationship can create a secure environment where issues can be confronted.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another effective treatment for AVPD. CBT involves examining the beliefs that harbor negative or unhealthy feelings and testing them in a more rational way to see if there is any factual evidence for them. Patients may be asked to write down their thoughts and examine how they can replace these views with something more positive.
Although there is no medication that specifically treats AVPD, doctors can prescribe things such as antidepressants to help alleviate depression or anxiety, which are often common among those with the disorder.
In conclusion, AVPD is a psychological disorder characterized by social inhibition and fear of negative responses. While there is no cure for AVPD, psychotherapy and CBT can improve the standard of living for those with the disorder. We can help those with AVPD by understanding the symptoms, seeking professional help, and offering support and encouragement as they go through the treatment process.