woman in sweater avoiding others wondering about avoidant personality disorder vs social anxiety

Avoidant Personality Disorder vs. Social Anxiety

Avoidant personality disorder treatment and antisocial personality disorder treatment are different. The two disorders are often confused with social anxiety, but they are not the same. 

There are certain features of these conditions that overlap, but there are also distinct and unique features that characterize each one. If you think you need help with social anxiety or a personality disorder, the compassionate team at Promises Behavioral Health is available at 844.875.5609.

Avoidant Personality Disorder vs. Social Anxiety: What Are the Signs of Avoidant Personality Disorder?

These two conditions appear similar in many ways, but it’s important to remember that they are separate mental health disorders. Misdiagnosis can affect treatment, so it’s vital to seek help from an experienced professional. 

Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD)

This type of personality disorder is characterized by a long-standing and pervasive pattern of certain thoughts and behaviors. Those with AVPD have traits that revolve around social inhibition and are often hypersensitive to criticism. 

They easily and frequently become fixated on what other people think of them. For this reason, people with AVPD avoid social situations during which they might be judged. Their fear of rejection also often makes it difficult to meet new people and maintain relationships.

In addition, people with avoidant personality disorder constantly worry about embarrassing themselves, which leads them to withdraw from much of society. To be diagnosed with AVPD, a person must exhibit at least four of the following:

  • An unwillingness to get involved in relationships without knowing they’ll be accepted for sure
  • Chronic avoidance of activities at work that involve contact with others
  • Avoidance of new activities (risks) out of fear of embarrassment
  • Inhibition in new relationships because of feeling inadequate
  • A preoccupation with rejection and criticism
  • Thinking they are unworthy, incompetent, inferior, or undesirable
  • Restraint in intimacy because of a fear of ridicule

A person with this disorder is likely to want to be “invisible” and not attract any attention to avoid judgment, ridicule, and criticism.

Avoidant Personality Disorder vs. Anxiety: What Are the Signs of Anxiety?

AVPD and social anxiety do share the fear of being judged or ridiculed in social situations. In addition, people who suffer from symptoms of either condition may be described as timid, shy, having low self-esteem, or isolated.

Many experts agree that avoidant personality disorder is a more severe form of social anxiety. The two conditions can overlap so much that they might appear like the same concern with different presentations.

However, there is one key difference that separates the two that puts the debate of avoidant personality disorder vs. anxiety to rest for good: With AVPD, avoidance is present in almost all areas of life, while social anxiety can involve avoidance in a select few instances.

In addition, research indicates that AVPD may be more likely to occur than just social anxiety when a person’s physical appearance suddenly changes, such as after an accident or illness. On the other hand, you may be more likely to develop social anxiety if you have a sibling or parent who has symptoms of it.

Treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder vs. Social Anxiety at Promises Behavioral Health

Treatment is available for antisocial personality disorder, social anxiety, and avoidant personality disorder. A qualified mental health professional can make an appropriate diagnosis and help clients understand the treatment options. 

It’s important to be very specific with medical professionals about symptoms, thoughts, and experiences in order to accurately diagnose and treat the appropriate issue.

If you think you or someone you know might be experiencing symptoms of any of these conditions, make an appointment with us at Promises Behavioral Health today by calling 844.875.5609.

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