Avoidant personality disorder is a mental condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of feeling very:
Causes of avoidant personality disorder are unknown. Genes or a physical illness that changed the person's appearance may play a role.
People with this disorder cannot stop thinking about their own shortcomings. They form relationships with other people only if they believe they will not be rejected. Loss and rejection are so painful that these people choose to be lonely rather than risk trying to connect with others.
A person with avoidant personality disorder may:
Avoidant personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation. The health care provider will consider how long and how severe the person's symptoms are.
Talk therapy is considered to be the most effective treatment for this condition. It helps people with this disorder be less sensitive to rejection. Antidepressant medicines may be used in addition.
People with this disorder may develop some ability to relate to others. With treatment this can be improved.
Without treatment, a person with avoidant personality disorder may lead a life of near or total isolation. They may go on to develop a second mental health disorder, such as substance use or depression and may be at higher risk for suicide.
See your provider or a mental health professional if shyness or fear of rejection overwhelms your ability to function in life and have relationships.
Reviewed By: Ryan James Kimmel, MD, Medical Director of Hospital Psychiatry at the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.