Avoided personality and social anxiety: What's the difference?

The silhouette of a person standing in a field with yellow mustard flowers.Social anxiety and avoidance of personality disorder share some common features, but are separate mental health conditions. Because the two conditions appear similar in many ways, it is not uncommon for people to make mistakes about one another.

Sometimes simple assistance is more important than getting a specific diagnosis. But some people also consider it beneficial to know what affects them. In some cases, the best approach to treatment differs for separate mental health issues, so misdiagnosis can affect treatment and make it harder for an individual to improve.

Social anxiety or social phobia is a particular type of stress characterized by fear of social situations. People with social anxiety are worried about their embarrassment to the public or doing something that will make them feel negative. It is quite common for people to feel nervous about doing something annoying to the audience, but the feelings of fear and anxiety that occur with social phobia can become so difficult to cause at work, at school or in other parts of everyday life. Approximately 75% of people with social anxiety are aged between 8 and 15 when diagnosed.

Avoiding personality disorder is a personality disorder of the C complex. Personality disorders are a specific type of mental health where patterns of thought and behavior affect everyday life, and those with personality disorders often experience difficulties in working and personal life because they have a difficult time to understand other people and common situations.

Levana Slabodnick, LISW-S, a therapist at Columbus, Ohio, notes that the difference between social anxiety and avoidable personality may lie in how the individual sees his own experience. He explains: "A fundamental difference between disorder of social anxiety and avoidance of personality disorder is related to how the patient perceives his or her own pain. Those with anxiety understand at a basic level that their anxiety is absurd and that the world is not it's as hard as they judge for themselves, those with APD, on the other hand, lack this knowledge. "They have deeply rooted feelings of insecurity and worthless that they believe to be.

People with an avoidable personality often feel socially embarrassed and inferior to others. They tend to be very sensitive to criticism and rejection and often avoid making friends or taking part in social events unless they are sure to welcome them. The feelings of shame or self-healing are more related to avoiding personality than social anxiety. This condition is often not diagnosed in children, although it often develops in childhood.

Avoiding personality disorder over social anxiety

Social anxiety and avoidable personality share a strong fear of being embarrassed or judged in social situations. People can describe a person in any situation as shy, timid, awkward or frightened.

The fear associated with these situations can be manifested in many ways, such as:

  • Avoiding social situations
  • Avoiding interactions with strangers
  • Low self-esteem
  • Shame or distraction around other people
  • Isolation from others or complete social withdrawal

The debate about whether avoided personality is a most serious type of social anxiety exists among mental health experts. According to its fifth edition DSM, these issues are often diagnosed together and may overlap to the point where different presentations of the same concern may appear. But while avoided personality usually includes patterns of avoidance in most or all areas of life, social anxiety can only involve avoidance in a few specific situations. The DSM continues to categorize them separately.

The debate about whether avoided personality is a most serious type of social anxiety exists among mental health experts.

The two issues continue to share similarities when it comes to risk factors. Genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the development of one of the two situations. Avoidance can be a learning response. People may begin to avoid social situations after a negative experience, for example. Being shy as a child can also increase a person's likelihood of continuing to develop social anxiety or avoiding personality, although he is shy does not necessarily mean that a person will develop either an issue for some.

The experience of abuse, trauma, intimidation or other negative events in childhood may increase the risk of both social anxiety and avoidance of personality. But neglect, especially physical negligence, is an important risk factor for avoided personality. A 2015 study comparing the two conditions found that the presence of indifferent carers, the feeling dismissed by carers or lack of affection in childhood was more common in people with avoided personality.

Some risk factors differ between the two conditions:

  • Some research has shown that avoided personality may be more likely when one's physical appearance changes after illness.
  • Surveys show that the brain's structure can contribute to anxiety. If your amygdala, which is believed to help you regulate your response to fear, is very active, you may feel more concerned in some situations than other people do.
  • Having a parent or a brother with social anxiety makes it 2-6 times more likely that a person develops the situation, according to DSM-5.

Should I get cure for social anxiety or APD?

Treatment is generally recommended for both avoided personality and social anxiety. Only a mental health professional can diagnose mental health issues. If you think you may have symptoms either by avoiding personality or social anxiety, making an appointment with a qualified therapist or counselor can be a good place to get started.

Leaving potential counselors to know your specific symptoms and describing your specific experience can help them decide if they are appropriate to help you. Not every therapist has experience experiencing any mental health condition, but a moral therapist will always tell you if they think that another therapist may be more useful.

Social anxiety is often treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment helps you identify thoughts that cause discomfort and affect you negatively. Once you recognize them, you learn how to change them. You can only do CBT, but some people find group therapy helpful.

The CBT based on the report is a concrete approach to CBT, where you slowly report the worrying situations. This approach often includes practical skills or role roles, both of which can help people communicate more comfortably with others in the safe treatment area.

According to a 2015 study, performing random acts of kindness for others led to a reduction in social anxiety symptoms in study participants after 4 weeks.

While treatment can be of great benefit, sometimes social anxiety does not improve immediately. If you work with a counselor and you are still experiencing major difficulties in your daily life, a psychiatrist may recommend medications such as:

Anxiety medication can help alleviate some symptoms of social anxiety, but it is a good idea to continue treatment at the same time as treatment helps you learn how to cope with what you are experiencing. This may have a more permanent effect on your symptoms.

Many people believe that personality disorders can not be cured, but this is not the case. It can be difficult to deal with, especially if you have had symptoms for a long time. But the treatment can be very helpful. People with avoidable personality often seek treatment when experiencing loneliness and anxiety due to their inability to participate in social events.

Research has shown that people with avoided personality can do better if they have the support of family members.

Any kind of speech therapy can be useful for avoiding personality. CBT is commonly used to treat this condition, but other useful approaches include family and group therapy. Research has shown that people with avoided personality can do better if they have the support of family members. Group therapy can help people learn how to develop communication and communication skills in a safe place and is often recommended for the treatment of personality disorders.

There is no specific medicine used to treat an avoided personality. However, antidepressants and anxiety drugs can help alleviate some serious symptoms.


Social anxiety and avoidance personality have some similarities and some approaches to treatment may be similar. Regardless of the situation you have, treatment can help. It is important to seek help if you are experiencing social situations. When social anxiety or avoidance personality goes untreated, complications such as depression, isolation and substance abuse can develop. Some people may feel significant loneliness and discomfort.

Discussion with a therapist can help you get a diagnosis. But you will also begin to learn ways to cope with the feelings you are experiencing and to explore methods to overcome these feelings. Treatment can help you become more accustomed to the company of others. Over time, it may be easier to engage in social situations.

If you need help finding a counselor in your area, our healer's list is a good place to get started. Remember, you are not alone!

Bibliographical references:

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  4. Eikenaes, I., Egeland, J., Hummelen, B., & Wilberg, T. (2015, March 27). Avoiding personality disorder over social phobia: The importance of child neglect. PLoS One, 10(5). doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0122846
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