What is Avoidant personality disorder & social anxiety, Avoidant personality disorder & social anxiety


Today let’s peek into disorders called, avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety. These two are the most common mental illness faced by many people around the globe. There is a thin difference between an Avoidant personality disorder vs social anxiety. Let’s see its causes, symptoms, and treatments whether they are curable or not.

Avoidant personality disorder vs social anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness worldwide; avoidant personality disorder is one of the types of anxiety disorder linked with various social anxiety. Life in the current age offers a whole crowd of different social complications. The always “plugged in” nature of modern life and social media can lead to the constant comparing of yourself to others in a way that humans have never had to handle before. It’s only natural for some people to feel as though they are inferior or different from everybody else. But what if these feelings go beyond the rare thought?

According to anxiety disorders, avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety are the most common mental illnesses among the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety disorder affects 40 million adults from 18 or older or 18.1% of the United States population. It’s no surprise that often, many behavioral health conditions have overlapping symptoms. Because of this, self-diagnosis is often incorrect. In the case of avoidant personality disorder vs social anxiety, treating the symptoms of behavioral health issues on your own isn’t always a bad thing, but in certain situations, self-misdiagnosis can deter mental health progress.

What is social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety, furthermore known as social phobia, social anxiety is a specific type of anxiety, having a fear of social situations. It’s a vast disorder that can affect every viewpoint of a person’s life that involves interacting with other people. People with social anxiety tend to be diverted to embarrass themselves in public or do something that will cause others to judge them.
Situations that come to mind, like having a job interview or meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, are customary to be anxious or nervous in many social situations like this. The difference is that people with a social anxiety disorder find social situations so uncomfortable that they cause problems at school, work, and other parts of daily contemporary life. People with a social anxiety disorder desire to socialize with others, but the fear of social situations snatches them back.

Example for Social anxiety disorder

To understand the problems that people with social anxiety face, let us take an example of a person called Dylan. Dylan is an exceptionally bright, insightful, and kind person to the people who benefit from being close to him. He’s 30 years old and attended college a couple of years ago before dropping out and working at a local grocery store full time as an overnight employee who stocks the shelves. Of course, Dylan was bright enough to seek higher education, but something was holding him back. Dylan, with his few classmates, used to have a few classes together in the engineering school. As the semesters progressed, his classmates would see less and less of Dylan in their classes together. Naturally, his grades began to slip because, after all, half the battle is just showing up, right?

What did social anxiety do to Dylan?

For Dylan and others with social anxiety, just showing up to social situations can be the whole battle. Dylan wished to perform well in school and socialize, but the severe fear of other people judging him held him back from attaining his academic talent. Mixing is arguably an essential part of traditional institutes of higher education. Networking with your friends can make the change to real-world careers much easier. Dylans’s fear of social situations has deprived him of a formal college experience. Instead, he works the third shift at a grocery store, minimally interacting with other people. Dylan is engaged to be married now and has found happiness, but we can’t help but think about what could have been if he had been able to overcome his fears and his social anxiety.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

There is some behavioral characteristic that is common between both avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety disorder. A main negative factor in both of these conditions is the avoidance of social situations. Both conditions are marked by an intense fear of being judged or embarrassed in social situations. The difference between them lies in the motivation behind this avoidance.
People with an avoidant personality disorder often have strong feelings of shame or self-loathing absent from people who suffer from social anxiety. These people also tend to be very sensitive to criticism and rejection and often avoid pursuing friendships or participating in social events unless they are sure they are welcomed.

Example of Avoidant personality disorder

Let’s explore how Dylan’s life may have been different if he had endured an avoidant personality disorder rather than social anxiety. It’s entirely possible that if he’d been living with avoidant personality disorder, Dylan and his classmates would have never met. You see, they meet in the dorms on their first semester at college. The decision to attend a formal university is most likely the most significant decision a teenager has to make up to that point, and it’s a big task.

It’s much like taking the training wheels off of your bike. Your day-to-day decisions and social interactions are your crosses to survive. The chance of living in a dorm with another person on a campus of thousands of people may very well have proved to be an impossible challenge for Dylan. His internalized feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and worthlessness rule that he lead a life of social isolation. He still works the third shift at the grocery store because of the minimal social interaction, but he remains unmarried and isolated.

Treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder vs. Social Anxiety

Therapy is general advice for both avoidant personality and social anxiety. Most likely, a mental health professional can help to diagnose these issues. Suppose anything you’ve read in this article strikes a chord with feelings you’ve experienced. In that case, it is advisable to make an appointment with one of the licensed and compassionate mental health professionals; consulting with a professional could be a good starting point for the therapy.

One popular and effective treatment modality used in dealing with social anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. The goal of this therapy is to identify the thoughts that cause you distress or anxiety. After identifying the purpose becomes changing these ways of thinking. CBT may begin as one-on-one sessions with your therapist, but the ultimate and most effective goal is to engage in group therapy. Anti-anxiety medication may also be used alongside therapy to help ensure the most favorable outcome for people with social anxiety.

Whether it is treatable or not?

Many people believe that personality disorders such as avoidant personality are untreatable, but this is far from the case. They can certainly be challenging to treat, especially if you’ve been living with symptoms of the disorder for a long time. Any type of therapy that involves talking can be helpful for avoidant personality. CBT is an effective treatment.

Research has also shown that treatment for avoidant personality disorder can be the best when family members or loved ones support the person. There are no specific medications used to treat avoidant personality disorder, but some anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications are helpful for more severe symptoms.

Frequently asked questions

Why do people develop avoidant personality disorder?

People who develop an avoidant personality disorder, undergoing bullying, abuse, trauma, or other adverse incidents in childhood can increase the risk of developing an avoidant personality disorder. In the case of this disorder, it is primarily true when you are dealing with physical negligence in your childhood. Avoidant personality is most frequently an experienced behavior.

What famous person has an avoidant personality disorder?

An avoidant personality disorder is more common than you may think. “King of PopMichael Jackson, actress Kim Basinger, and singer Donny Osmond have spoken about their struggles with an avoidant personality disorder.

What are the similarities and differences between schizoid personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder?

People with schizoid personality disorder grow to not aspire to relationships with other people because they are incapable of relating to people in a meaningful way. On the other hand, people with avoidant personality disorder desire relationships with other people but avoid them because of fear of embarrassment, denial, or feelings of inadequacy.

Is avoidant personality disorder an anxiety disorder?

Yes, avoidant personality disorder falls under the umbrella category of “anxiety” disorder.
Avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety can be harsh conditions to overcome. Complicated necessarily does not mean it is impossible to overcome these disorders.


These disorders, that can last for a lifetime if not treated at the right time. Early diagnosis can help in the betterment of the condition. Therapy and other effective treatments are CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), an anti-anxiety medication that can help you overcome the disorder.

Subin Joshua
Author: Hi there, my name is Subin Joshua, and I am a Medical student. I grew up in a family of teachers and know that being a social worker is my calling. My passion for helping others has been evident in my involvement in helping the poor and needy for the last three years. Through those experiences, I have learned to interact with a diverse group of people, which has increased my ability to relate to others.