Avoidant Personality Disorder

Individuals with avoidant personality disorder desire relationships but avoid them because of the anxiety produced by their sense of inadequacy.

Lifetime prevalence is 0.5% to 1 % of the general population and appears to be of equal prevalence in men and women.

There are no conclusive data. The pattern of avoidance may start in infancy.

Clinical Manifestations
History and Mental Status Examination
People with avoidant personality disorder experience intense feelings of inadequacy. They are painfully sensitive to criticism, so much so that they are compelled to avoid spending time with people. Their fears of rejection and humiliation are so powerful that to engage in a relationship they seek strong guarantees of acceptance. The essence of this disorder is inadequacy, hypersensitivity to criticism, and consequent social inhibition.

Differential Diagnosis
The major diagnostic distinction is between avoidant personality disorder and social phobia, generalized type.

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Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD