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Diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant Personality Disorder is diagnosed based on a clinical assessment performed by a mental health professional.  This assessment includes an interview with the individual, a review of any previous medical records, and can also include an interview with the individual's family members or close friends.  The goal of this assessment is to determine whether the individual meets the clinical criteria for Avoidant Personality Disorder based on the information obtained. 

There are no laboratory tests or imaging tests (such as CT scans or MRI scans) that can help make a diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder.

Differential Diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder

In making a diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder, this disorder must be distinguished from other conditions that also involve fear or avoidance of particular situations:

In Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Schizoid Personality Disorder and Schizotypal Personality Disorder, social situations will be avoided because they are of no interest to the individual, not because they are feared, and there is also usually a lack of age-appropriate social relationships even with familiar people.

People with paranoid delusions (which can occur in the context of a Psychotic Disorder or a Mood Disorder), or people with Paranoid Personality Disorder, may fear social situations or be reluctant to confide in others because they fear others' malicious intentions, which is different than the self-consciousness and fear of embarrassment that is characteristic of Avoidant Personality Disorder.

There is a great deal of overlap between Generalized Social Phobia and Avoidant Personality Disorder, to the point where these may in fact be two names for the same condition [ref, ref, ref].


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Symptoms & Definition