Is Avoidant Personality Disorder Curable?

What is avoidant personality disorder and is it curable?

The effects of avoidant personality disorder can be so far-reaching that an individual can become extremely isolated and, in extreme cases, they may develop agoraphobia. With many patients desperate to rid themselves of such feelings, they often want to know, what is avoidant personality disorder and is it curable?

When determining whether avoidant personality is curable, it is necessary to assess each patient individually. As people may suffer from additional disorders or conditions, the effectiveness of treatment may depend, partly, on recovery from other illnesses.

Generally, avoidant personality disorder is treated and managed, rather than cured outright. As with any psychiatric issue, the resolution of avoidant personality disorder may occur over time, rather than instantaneously or quickly.

Often, treatment is aimed at resolving the symptoms of avoidant personality disorder, as well as enabling patients to increase their self-esteem.

Although medication can be given for personality disorders, it is normally used when other conditions are present. An individual with avoidant personality disorder may develop depression as a result of the isolation, for example. In such cases, it may be appropriate for the patient to be prescribed anti-depressants.

However, merely prescribing medication for avoidant personality disorder may not be effective and is unlikely to provide a sufficient answer when people ask, if avoidant personality disorder curable. As personality disorders are pervasive, medication does not generally suffice as a treatment measure and additional treatment is often required.

Psychotherapy, for example, can be effective in managing and reducing the effects of avoidant personality disorder.

However, in cases of avoidant personality disorder, goal-oriented therapy may be more beneficial than on-going, long-lasting therapy sessions. As the patient may feel unworthy of treatment or too anxious to seek help, they may be more likely to engage in therapy if it is aimed at achieving a specific goal.

Whilst avoidant personality disorder, and personality disorders in general, are not normally viewed as curable, they can certainly be managed and treated effectively. In order for this to occur, however, patients must be encouraged and nurtured, rather than pressured into seeking help.

If rapport with a therapist is established, patients with avoidant personality disorder can successfully reduce symptoms associated with the disorder and learn to overcome the anxiety associated with certain situations. In doing so, the crippling social isolation caused by an avoidant personality disorder can be somewhat relieved.

How is avoidant personality disorder characterized?

Avoidant personality disorder presents with a cluster of traits. Sufferers of the disorder may feel wholly inadequate and sensitive to what other people may feel about them. For many people with avoidant personality disorder, they view themselves as socially inept and, therefore, isolate themselves from others.

As a result, people with avoidant personality disorder may exclude themselves from social functions or working environments which involve interacting with people regularly. For younger people, school may present an issue as they may feel particularly vulnerable when surrounded by their peers. In general, children and teenagers with avoidant personality disorder will avoid attending after school activities or socializing.

As a Cluster C personality disorder, an avoidant personality is seen as fearful or anxious. Individuals may pay close attention to the expressions and comments of people around them, awaiting the negative evaluation they assume they will receive.

Unfortunately, the low self-esteem associated with avoidant personality disorder can be reinforced if the individual is ridiculed over their shyness. This is particularly problematic in school environments, where other young people may not realize the extent of the issue or understand the effect their comments may have on the person.

Is it easy to recognize avoidant personal disorder?

Medical professionals will assess the patient’s feelings and behavior according to strict diagnostic criteria in order to determine if avoidant personality disorder is present. Although there are key characteristics which point to the disorder, non-medical professionals may not be able to identify someone with the condition.

Instead, they may view someone as simply shy, isolated or lonely, rather than realizing they are suffering from an established, personality disorder.

In order to meet the diagnostic criteria of avoidant personality disorder, patients must exhibit certain thoughts or behaviors. Although the diagnostic criteria is subject to variation, several factors remain consistent throughout varying diagnostic measures.

For example, patients will display feelings of inferiority, an unwillingness to participate in activities with other people and have an excessive preoccupation with the possibility of receiving criticism. Although people with avoidant personality disorder often crave close relationships, they generally avoid intimacy due to a fear of being ridiculed. In addition to this, individuals may avoid any situation which could require interpersonal conduct.

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Last Reviewed:
June 14, 2017
Last Updated:
October 10, 2017