Rejection and embarrassment are never easy to deal with no matter how self-confident you are. But when you harbor feelings of inadequacy and you're ov
Rejection and embarrassment are never easy to deal with no matter how self-confident you are. But when you harbor feelings of inadequacy and you’re oversensitive to criticism and rejection, you may be dealing with a mental health problem called avoidant personality disorder.
Avoidant personality disorder can make you isolate yourself from other people. It can make you feel lonely and disengaged from others even though you may want to form and develop relationships with others. Avoidant personality disorder causes a lot of distress. So if you have it, read on and learn about your treatment options.
Key Elements of Avoidant Personality Disorder
Avoidant personality disorder has three key components. These are social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, as well as sensitivity to rejection or criticism.
Social inhibition means you feel awkward whenever you’re in a social setting. You tend to avoid circumstances that require you to avoid having interpersonal contact with other people. In short, you can’t relate to other people well.
Your social inhibition may be driven by feelings of inadequacy. It’s not just about feeling insecure. Rather, it’s about feeling inept and full of shortcomings. People with avoidant personality disorder tend to focus too much on their perceived flaws and shortcomings. And if you ask them, they may say that they don’t have any strengths at all.
Because of these feelings of inadequacy, a person with avoidant personality disorder tends to be very sensitive when being criticized. Rejection and embarrassment are always perceived as huge blows to their ego and further damage their low self-esteem.
Characteristics Common in People with Avoidant Disorder
Before a mental health professional diagnoses you as having an avoidant personality disorder, he will need to observe and examine you first. In particular, your doctor will look for 4 of any of the following common characteristics:
- Due to your fear of disapproval or being criticized, you tend to avoid work activities that require you to have contact with other people.
- Unless you’re certain that the other person likes you, you’re not willing at all to get involved with that person, so you end up having very few close friends.
- For fear of being humiliated or ridiculed, you hold yourself back in your relationships with other people.
- Whenever you’re in a social situation, you’re filled with shyness and you feel awkward and self-conscious. Your thoughts are dominated by your fear of ridicule, criticism, rejection, and embarrassment.
- You tend to avoid social situations or if you’re in one, you hold yourself back because of your feelings of inadequacy.
- Disapproval and criticism, no matter how light or constructive, easily hurt you.
- You’re afraid of being embarrassed so you avoid taking part in new activities, nor do you like taking personal risks or taking chances.
- Because you believe that you are unappealing or inadequate, you tend to have a very poor self-image.
Treatment Options for Avoidant Personality Disorder
One of the reasons why people with avoidant personality disorder seek treatment is that they want to be able to manage their distress whenever they’re in public or at work. Another strong reason is that they want to be able to build stronger relationships.
Psychotherapy is the primary treatment option for AVPD or avoidant personality disorder. This may be in the form of individual talk therapy with your doctor. It may also include group therapy, family therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Through psychodynamic psychotherapy, your doctor enables you to have an increased awareness of your unconscious thoughts. Psychodynamic psychotherapy encourages you to look back and examine your past to better understand how your previous emotional pains influence your current behavior.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, on the one hand, helps you to form healthier and more positive thoughts about yourself. Your therapist helps you to examine your thought processes so that you can recognize and replace whatever negative and unhealthy beliefs you may have.
Certain medications may also be prescribed, but these are typically given only if you have co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression.
Is A Romantic Relationship Possible?
People with an avoidant personality disorder may still form romantic relationships, although it can be very challenging for the couple. For one, the partner with avoidant personality disorder tends to find it difficult to form a strong emotional bond due to his or her fears of rejection, disapproval, criticisms, humiliation, and embarrassment.
Nevertheless, it is still possible for those with an avoidant personality disorder to engage in physical intimacy. A certain level of emotional intimacy may be achieved, but only with the help of the other partner.
When it comes to sex, a person with an avoidant personality disorder may develop sexual performance anxiety due to his feelings of inadequacy. He may feel as if he’s inept at sex or that he is not good enough to satisfy his partner in bed. With therapy and a little help, however, this can be overcome.
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