Avoidant personality disorder can have a profoundly negative impact on your life if it goes untreated. If you have avoidant personality disorder, the smallest social interactions can feel impossible. Your self-doubt and self-judgment prevent you from connecting with others, leading to serious loneliness and isolation.
Avoidant personality disorder is manageable with therapy, but you must first recognize that you’re struggling. You should understand the causes and signs of this disorder so that you know when to reach out for support.
What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder?
Avoidant personality disorder is a mental health condition characterized by social anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, and an extreme sensitivity to rejection. Because so much of our lives involve social interaction, people with avoidant personality disorder can experience a great deal of distress as they try to navigate their daily lives.
Like all personality disorders, avoidant personality disorder is considered a lifelong condition. However, it is absolutely possible to treat avoidant personality disorder with therapy or other forms of support. The key to overcoming avoidant personality disorder is learning to manage the negative thoughts instead of allowing them to control your life.
Causes of Avoidant Personality Disorder
The exact cause of avoidant personality disorder is unknown. Like most mental health conditions, it is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors. You might be predisposed to developing the disorder based on your family history, but a specific experience could trigger the onset of symptoms.
In some cases, avoidant personality disorder develops after experiencing neglect or abuse in early childhood. If you’re taught from a young age that you’re unwanted or don’t deserve love and support, you may find it very difficult to trust and connect with others later in life. Bullying and other instances of peer rejection may contribute to AVPD, too.
6 Signs of Avoidant Personality Disorder
Avoidant personality disorder is a complex condition that affects virtually every area of your life. No two people will experience exactly the same symptoms, so only a qualified mental health professional can diagnose the condition. There are some core characteristics that are shared by many, though. The following are some of the most common signs of avoidant personality disorder:
1. You constantly feel inadequate.
One of the core experiences of avoidant personality disorder is deeply rooted feelings of inadequacy. You often compare yourself to others and feel as if you don’t measure up. You might tell yourself that everyone else is more successful than you or that you’re not intelligent, talented, likable enough to form meaningful relationships.
These intense feelings of self-doubt or self-criticism can prevent you from approaching others or participating in social events. Because you’re convinced that everyone else is so much better than you, you don’t see any reason why someone would want to spend time with you.
2. You avoid social situations at all costs.
People with avoidant personality disorder tend to feel extremely anxious in social settings, especially when they’re around people they don’t know very well. Because the disorder causes such low self-esteem, you may assume that no one will like you. To avoid any possible rejection or embarrassment, you’d rather stay home or spend time with a close friend you trust.
When you do find yourself in a social environment, you may have an incredibly difficult time connecting with other people. You feel anxious to start a conversation, and you’re scared that anything you say will reflect poorly on you.
3. You overanalyze your conversations.
Everyone reflects back on something embarrassing they said on occasion, but people with avoidant personality disorder often analyze every single word they say. After a conversation, you may pick apart your words and find the flaws in every statement. You might feel embarrassed or shameful about what you said even if the other person reacted positively to you. AVPD convinces you that you’re unlikeable or unwanted, and you’ll spend hours analyzing your interactions to try to find proof to back up this belief.
4. You react strongly to criticism.
Learning to handle criticism is a lifelong process for so many people, but avoidant personality disorder makes it particularly difficult. Because your sense of self-worth is already so low, any perceived criticism can feel devastating. The slightest conflict can lead to intense anxiety and distress.
Because criticism is so hard to manage, you may avoid any situation in which you might receive it. For example, you may hesitate to pursue your dream job or apply for a promotion out of fear of rejection. Similarly, you might avoid bringing up any interpersonal concerns because you don’t want to experience conflict.
5. You don’t want to try anything new.
Fear of embarrassment is a driving factor behind avoidant personality disorder. This disorder causes such intense concern over how others perceive you that it can stop you from participating in your hobbies. Part of you might desperately want to try a new activity, but the fear of humiliation stops you from taking the risk. As a result, you might feel a sense of emptiness or dissatisfaction with your life.
6. You don’t feel like you deserve support.
Many individuals with AVPD recognize that they’re in pain, but they feel powerless to stop it. A personality disorder can consume your entire sense of self, so you might not realize how much the symptoms are interfering with your life. You may believe that something is inherently wrong with you and that you’re simply an inadequate, unwanted person.
Recognizing that you’re struggling with a mental health condition is a key step toward self-improvement. By acknowledging that your symptoms are a result of a mental health issue and not a result of your own flaws, you allow yourself to seek the support you need to heal.
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group provides therapy for avoidant personality disorder, social anxiety, and many other mental and emotional concerns. If you’re ready to overcome your AVPD with therapy, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment with a therapist in Los Angeles.