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The Difference Between Avoidant Personality Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

The Difference Between Avoidant Personality Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder

As the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains, personality disorders represent, “…an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture.”

The symptoms associated with personality disorders can cause a lot of distress in daily life – especially with social situations or interpersonal communication. On the surface, personality disorders may seem quite similar to one another. There are underlying differences, however, that should be taken into consideration – because there are varying needs that should be addressed in treatment.

Avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) is a Cluster C personality disorder and isn’t as commonly diagnosed. A 2018 study published in the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management explained that in many cases, APD is considered a more severe version of social anxiety disorder (SAD). There are distinct symptoms of AVPD that differ from SAD, however:

  •    Self concept – fear of rejection, less agreeable and less extroverted, those with AVPD have a much deeper negative self-concept
  •    Avoidant behavior – high levels of internalized shame are likely to exist, which differ from SAD, who tend to generally fear being judged
  •    Early attachments – if caregivers are critical, demanding or neglectful of individuals growing up, that person is more likely to develop fearful attachment styles to others, which can often provoke negative reactions in relationships
  •    Attachment style – overall connections with others can be rocky, because those with AVPD may not have healthy coping mechanisms to work with

The biggest question that can be asked to determine the difference between AVPD and SAD is this: “How does the person perceive their pain?” For those with SAD, the answer is generally that they understand their fears are irrational, but they simply needs coping skills to better adapt to social situations. Those with AVPD, on the other hand, tend to have a strong core belief grounded in worthlessness, low self-image and shame.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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