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People with Avoidant Personality Disorder are characterised by a complex pattern of feelings of inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to what other people think of them. People with the disorder frequently consider themselves to be personally unappealing and socially inept. They will often avoid social situations due to fearing humiliation or being disliked by others. It is believed that this stems from perceived or actual rejection by parents or peers during childhood.

The disorder usually manifests itself by early adulthood and is particularly common amongst those with anxiety disorders. It has been suggested that between 10 and 50 percent of people with panic disorder or agoraphobia, also have Avoidant Personality Disorder.

In order for a diagnosis for Avoidant Personality Disorder to be made, the client must display at least four of the following criteria:

  • Fears disapproval, rejection or criticism
  • Unwilling to become involved with people unless they are certain of being liked
  • Restrained within a physical relationship due to fear of being shamed
  • Preoccupied with rejection or criticism in social situations
  • Experiences inhibitions in new relationship situations due to feelings of inadequacy
  • Regards themselves as being socially inept, inferior or unappealing
  • Avoids taking personal risks or taking part in new activities due to fear of embarrassment