What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder?

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Avoidant personality disorder (APD) is a pattern of behavior related to social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and sensitivity to rejection which causes problems in work situations and relationships. People with the disorder show a pattern of avoidance due to fear of rejection or disapproval. This disorder impacts about two percent of people.


The following is a list of common symptoms associated with avoidant personality disorder:

  • Social inhibition
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Hypersensitivity to negative evaluation
  • Anxiety over what is said that may be wrong or perceived as wrong
  • A need to be liked
  • Avoiding situations due to fear of rejections
  • Avoiding interactions at work or turning down promotions
  • People pleasing attitude
  • Low self-esteem
  • Extreme self-consciousness
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Self-isolation
  • Failure to initiate social contact
  • Anxiety in social situations
  • Avoiding making decisions
  • Vigilant for signs of disapproval or rejection
  • Easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
  • No close friends/lacking a social network
  • Unwilling to take risks or try new things
  • Fearful and tense demeanor
  • Misinterpreting neutral situations as negative


The causes of APD are thought to involve genetic, environmental, social, and psychological factors. Rejection by peers may similarly be a risk factor as well as emotional abuse, criticism, or ridicule.

Treatment Options

Most people with APD do not seek treatment. They may have other issues they seek treatment for but not specifically APD. the outlook for people who do not seek treatment is that they self-isolate and use avoidance as a coping strategy. This leads to other healthy and mental health complications. A person with APD will always be shy but avoidance should not dominate their thoughts daily. Types of therapy that may be beneficial include:

  • CBT for learning how to shift unhealthy thinking patterns
  • Psychodynamic therapy aimed at raising awareness of the past to support the present healing
  • Schema therapy as an integrative approach building on CBT and other therapies. Focus is on therapeutic relationship between therapist and client with the goal of improving daily functioning and gaining insight for change based on re-engineering of early life experiences.

Medication may also be helpful but there are none right now specifically for APD. anxiety, depression, and other medication may be prescribed to help cope with some of the symptoms. Overall it is hard for a person with APD to get out and socialize so they will likely need help or support for the journey.

If you think you, or someone you know or love may be living with avoidant personality disorder symptoms, it is important to encourage that person to seek help. Without professional treatment such as talk therapy, it is unlikely that the symptoms and their related impacts on relationships will improve.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Community model. We help people learn how to live free of addiction. Our community support provides structure while trained counselors offer life skills training and therapeutic techniques to help you move past addiction. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.