When my colleague makes an urgent call to me to describe her 12 year’s daughter sudden behavior change, I did not take it seriously. But later on, when he described to me that his daughter’s behavior is recurring, I took a note of it.
What she used to do that I have to mention here.
The environment is such that when parents go out in the market, his daughter hardly comes out from the car. Sometimes, she used to hide inside the car so that outside people can’t see her. At any marriage party or social gathering, she hardly wants to go out. This pandemic situation because so serious that she even does not want to go even to her home front veranda on the pretext of what other people will say or think or they may ridicule her.
These types of behavior are recurring!
That is the relevance of the point I am highlighting here!
It seems she is suffering from AVPD.
Yes, Avoidant personality disorder!!
An avoidant personality disorder is a relatively common disorder that is associated with significant distress, impairment, and disability. It is a chronic disorder with an early age at onset and a lifelong impact.
The unfortunate thing is, AVPD is underrecognized and poorly studied.
As the term refers, AVPD is characterized by feelings of extreme social inhibition, inadequacy, and sensitivity to negative criticism and rejection.
Sometimes symptoms involve more than simply being shy or socially awkward. Avoidant personality disorder causes significant problems that affect the ability to interact with others and maintain relationships in day-to-day life.
Do you know, approximately about 2.5 % of the general population has avoidant personality disorder?
It’s the right time. I will emphasize it’s the crucial time to have a check on yourself are you having these symptoms.
- Anxiety in social situations
- Anxiety about saying or doing the wrong thing
- Avoiding conflict (being a “people-pleaser”)
- Avoiding interaction in work settings or turning down promotions
- Avoiding intimate relationships or sharing intimate feelings
- Avoiding making decisions2
- Avoiding situations due to fear of rejection
- Avoiding social situations or events
- A need to be well-liked
- Anhedonia (lack of pleasure in activities)
- Easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
- Extreme self-consciousness
- Failure to initiate social contact
- Fearful and tense demeanor
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Hypersensitivity to negative evaluation
- Lack of assertiveness
- Lack of trust in others
- Low self-esteem
- Misinterpreting neutral situations as negative
- No close friends/lacking a social network
- Social inhibition
- Unwilling to take risks or try new things
- Viewing oneself as socially inept or inferior3
- Vigilant for signs of disapproval or rejection
It’s not like that if have some of the symptoms which may be sometimes normal refer to AVPD but if those symptoms are recurring, then, it’s most crucial time to get it diagnosed by some expert on this field!!
To be sure, Avoidant personality disorder can only be diagnosed by a trained mental health professional based on criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). While a family physician can be the first point of contact for a diagnosis, but always remember that your doctor should make a referral to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional for diagnosis.
According to the DSM-5, a person must have a consistent pattern of avoiding social contact, being overly sensitive to rejection and criticism, and feeling inadequate, as displayed by at least four of the following criteria:
- Avoidance of occupational activities involving significant social contact out of fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
- Unwillingness to become involved with others unless you are certain that they will like you
- Holding back in intimate relationships out of fear of being ridiculed or humiliated
- Preoccupation with criticism or rejection in social situations
The most important point is, what causes this AVPD.
Your attention is drawn so that you can save your near and dear ones to get AVPD.
So far, Researchers don’t completely understand what causes avoidance personality disorder, but they believe it is a combination of genetics and environmental factors.
Early childhood experiences may be linked to the development of AVPD. Research suggests that children who see their caregivers as lacking in affection and encouragement and/or experience rejection from them may be at increased risk.
If you are a parent of grown-up children, please make a check on it.
Generally, children who experience abuse, neglect, and an overall lower level of care. In response to these experiences, children may avoid socializing with others as a coping strategy.
Sometimes social and psychological factors also play a role to get a victim of AVPD. Emotional abuse, criticism, ridicule may result in the development of this personality disorder if other factors are also present.
The point to ponder is: Rejection by peers is a risk factor.
Often, individuals with the disorder are very shy as children and do not outgrow this shyness as they age.
Social anxiety disorder and avoidant personality disorder share similar symptoms and genetics, with AVPD being the more severe form of the condition
Most shocking is, People with AVPD are also at increased risk of substance abuse or suicidal behavior.
It’s for these reasons only, it’s the crucial time to give utmost importance to AVPD.
There is little to no research demonstrating the effectiveness of medication in treating avoidant personality disorder.
Do you think, medicine can treat or cure AVPD?
Not at all.
Sometimes medications may be used to treat symptoms of avoidant personality disorder or the symptoms of co-occurring disorders. Medications include antidepressants (i.e. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and anti-anxiety medications.
Most important thing is, Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is the primary avoidant personality disorder treatment. Psychotherapy may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on reducing negative thought patterns and building social skills. If the inbuilt negative thinking pattern can be broken, you can say, half of the battle is won!!
You can go for Family therapy also which many times prove useful so that family members understand the condition and can provide a supportive environment that promotes growth and healthy risk-taking.
The bottom line is :
If you struggle with how to not be socially awkward and think you might have an avoidant personality disorder, important point is, you should not be discouraged. Help is available, and the first step is reaching out to your doctor or another counselor who can conduct an evaluation and assess your condition.
Point to be noted that Therapy in a safe and encouraging environment can help you explore the intense anxiety you experience in social situations and your fear of rejection or criticism. Together, you and your therapist or counselor can practice challenging negative beliefs and explore the small but significant steps you can take to build solid friendships, be more engaged at work, and develop intimate relationships with others.
Once you are aware of about AVPD, definitely, different options will open up to treat it!
For other interesting blog, click below