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Symptoms and Definition of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant Personality Disorder describes people who generally feel very inadequate, are wary of being judged by others, and are very shy and socially inhibited. These traits tend to be inflexible, persistent, and to lead to impairment or distress.

Starting in early adulthood, these individuals will have 4 or more of the following symptoms that characterize them and that are present in a variety of contexts:

  • Avoid work or school activities that involve a lot of social contact because of fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.
  • Unwilling to get involved with people unless they can feel certain that they will be liked.
  • Are very reserved and inhibited in intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed.
  • Worry a lot about being criticized, judged or rejected by others in social situations.
  • Are shy and inhibited when they are with new people because of feelings of inadequacy.
  • View themselves as socially inept, unappealing, or inferior to others.
  • Are unusually afraid or reluctant of doing any kinds of new activities, or of taking personal risks such as going for an interview or asking someone out on a date, for fear that these actions could be embarrassing.


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