Is avoidant personality disorder the fullblown version of social anxiety disorder? - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Is avoidant personality disorder the fullblown version of social anxiety disorder?


Just from the names (an anxiety disorder versus a personality disorder) the latter seems worse. Is the difference that former is curable while the latter is more permanent?
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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 01:52 PM
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People argue about this a lot. I think AvPD is just more severe SA, but others disagree. I doubt experts will say AvPD is incurable but I don't know anyone who cured it.

For definitions of psychological problems its best to refer to a book called The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Its the official book in the US which gives the definition of each diagnosis. This way every mental health professional in the US means the same thing when use a term. Its also used widely in foreign countries.
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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 01:57 PM
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My understanding is that they're two separate things, but I could be wrong.

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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 02:01 PM
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I don't believe that there's a distinct line between shyness and SAD and between SAD and avoidant personality disorder. I think it's a continuum. It's kinda like hypertension/heart disease. We set it at a certain level to make it easier to diagnose/treat and while useful, it's a bit arbitrary and set by social/cultural conventions. Shyness/SAD is looked down/frowned upon a lot more in a an aggressive/competitive/narcissistic society like today.

Having said that, I think it's generally easier to live with shyness versus SAD and with SAD versus Avoidant Personality Disorder. I think all 3 are somewhat permanent but the latter is much less changeable with any type of therapy (whether psychological or pharmaceutical).
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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 02:10 PM
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From what I know and remember, avoidant personality disorder has to do with a person feeling inferior and therefore they stay away from getting a job and things. They fear they will get embarrassed or feel shame. Social anxiety or social phobia I think is just a fear and anxiousness of being around others and communicating.

shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to.

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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 02:31 PM
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there were some good threads on this. the two theories are basically that:

A) avpd is just the full blown version of social anxiety disorder as you said.

B) social anxiety disorder is more about experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety and feeling anxious whereas avpd is more about deepset beliefs that you if you let people truly get to know you, they would not like you and a history of avoiding social interaction.

personally, i don't think they are different enough to be considered too separate entities. there is too much overlap and i think most of the time they have the same root cause.

i can see how one might argue they are different, especially because some people with social anxiety do not avoid social interaction so they are obviously not avpd but i still prefer to think of avpd as the same thing further along the continuum than as a separate thing.
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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 02:35 PM
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AvPD and SA are similar but not the same thing. In my case, I've been diagnosed with AvPD and social phobia. My SA is pretty mild and my AvPD has the most affect on me getting intimate or close to others.

And it is most definitely treatable.
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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-04-2010, 03:13 PM
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Symptoms/signs of Avoidant Personality:
-feelings of inadequacy
-mistrust of others
-feeling inferior to others
-severe low self-esteem
-self imposed isolation
...etc.

Doesn't most everyone with social anxiety experience the above signs/symptoms of Avoidant Personality? Am I in the minority with my feeling of being inferior to others and feeling like I don't measure up? It seems to me that if you've had social anxiety for awhile, your self-esteem would take a real nose-dive, and you'd progress to isolating yourself more and more. I don't really see the difference between the two disorders. Where does severe social anxiety end and avoidant personality disorder begin? I'm confused.
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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 03:01 PM
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I sometimes wonder whether my issue actually is social anxiety because I rarely feel anxious in social situations. I feel nervous and uncomfortable, but I don't panic.

The other thing that I just CANNOT wrap my head around is that most SA'ers are functional: most are in school, have jobs (careers!), have had relationships, and yes, many have friends/acquaintances. I don't relate to that at all.

I've read that SA'ers don't truly believe they're defective, inferior people; that many still see themselves as likeable, intelligent, etc. AvPD, otoh, is characterized by a persistent inferiority complex and extremely low self-esteem. Basically, they feel wholly inadequate, so they avoid everything and just isolate themselves. that describes me to a T (but I still dont' know whether it's avpd - kinda don't care either at this point; i don't think i'm going to change).

Makes ya wonder.
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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chantal View Post
I sometimes wonder whether my issue actually is social anxiety because I rarely feel anxious in social situations. I feel nervous and uncomfortable, but I don't panic.

The other thing that I just CANNOT wrap my head around is that most SA'ers are functional: most are in school, have jobs (careers!), have had relationships, and yes, many have friends/acquaintances. I don't relate to that at all.

I've read that SA'ers don't truly believe they're defective, inferior people; that many still see themselves as likeable, intelligent, etc. AvPD, otoh, is characterized by a persistent inferiority complex and extremely low self-esteem. Basically, they feel wholly inadequate, so they avoid everything and just isolate themselves. that describes me to a T (but I still dont' know whether it's avpd - kinda don't care either at this point; i don't think i'm going to change).

Makes ya wonder.
Yeah, I mean when I first began found out about SA (stumbled upon it at 15) I remember reading that like a worst case scenario of social phobia would be someone who stays in their house all day because the fear has literally become so bad they either have decided a life isolated is better or they literally would have a panic attack at the first instance of interaction.

And I know what you mean alot of people who post on these forums seem like they atleast try even if they fail miserably as where I have been much more accepting of my situation and really don't put myself in fear-inducing situations on a daily basis. This isn't just for social phobia this is just how I choose to respond to fear (i haven't been on a rollercoster in ten years) so when I recently heard of avpd I was like oh great this is like a specialized version of SA that is more specific to me, but then when I read it was like the worst case scenario of not leaving the house I had read about and was like oh ****.
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post #11 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 04:44 PM
 
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With APD, SA is so intense, that you avoid any situation that leads to anxiety symptoms. You no longer (or very rarely) suffer SA anymore, because you avoid anything that makes SA happen. This constant avoidance is APD, as I understand it.

So, APD isn't an anxiety disorder, it's a behavioural disorder. It is the direct result of wanting to avoid the sypmtoms of the anxiety disorder.

It should NOT be called a personality disorder. That's just about the stupidest name for it that it could have. Why? because that name implies that there's something wrong in your DNA that makes you that way. It's misleading, because APD is learnt behaviour. It's extreme extreme social avoidance tactics, and nobody is born with those as a part of their personality - they learn avoidance habits. If you cognitively learn something, then it can be unlearnt. If you can unlearn APD, then it's stupid to call it a personality disorder, since it isn't a part of your personality - it's just behaviour that helps you cover up your personality.
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post #12 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 05:43 PM
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interesting, i avoid people on purpose. is not that they don't want to talk to me, on the contrary, i don't want to talk to them. they ask me for my cell phone number i don't give it. they want to joke around with me and get to know me, i avoid it. hmmm...

google, here i come.
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post #13 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 06:33 PM
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I'm most likely in the minority that don't believe that AvPD is simply an extreme version of SA.

Socially Anxiety is caused by an inability to effectively cope with anxiety in social situations. Most of the symptoms of SA are byproducts of this.

AvPD is caused by unhealthy internalized beliefs (usually beginning from childhood).

While it's true that SA and AvPD share very similar symptoms, they originate from different things. The low self-esteem from SA is caused by repeated perceived social falures, while the low self-esteem from AvPD is from an unhealthy belief. The thing is that with AvPD that belief doesn't necessarily have to come from the same origin as SA (the perceived social failures). For me, personally, that unhealthy belief came from how I was mostly responded to as a child by my parents. Like everything I did or said, every emotion I expressed didn't matter or was inappropriate. Social anxiety came later when I had to make new friends because I moved to a different area.

Now, as far as this notion that people with AvPD just avoid everything that makes us anxious, that's true but only for severe cases. In milder cases the avoidant behavior is more toward becoming close or familiar with others. Needless to say it hampers our ability to make friends and especially form romantic relationship or get intimate if we were able to get into a romantic relationship.



But all of this is just my personal experience with AvPD and SA. Talk to someone else and they may have a totally different story.
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post #14 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-06-2010, 01:40 AM
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The more I read about this, the more I'm convinced I have AvPD. I've had unhealthy internalized beliefs ever since I was a little kid. I feared rejection before people even rejected me. I don't really have any "bad experiences" in terms of socializing; my social anxiety is, in my opinion, a natural reaction to my perceived shortcomings and general inferiority to most people around me. I hope to have friends one day. I'll probably never have a boyfriend/significant other because I feel like that's really audacious of me, to want or even think I could have love in my life. I know that that is not true, that I am lovable and I'm not inferior, yet I've internalized it to such a point that logical reasoning does not do any good--my beliefs about myself are way too deep within myself.
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post #15 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-06-2010, 10:17 AM
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AvPD from wikipedia:

Quote:
I have SA and I can relate with pretty much everything in that list, except that I don't have agoraphobia and I don't feel inferior to others except in social skills. So what makes the difference in SA vs AvPD?
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post #16 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-06-2010, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fixmein45 View Post
Just from the names (an anxiety disorder versus a personality disorder) the latter seems worse. Is the difference that former is curable while the latter is more permanent?

Yes, AVPD is worse;

Read this, it looks like a lot of text but once you read it, it's really clear, it gives the best definition of AVPD, this is from the "finally revealed: the difference between SA and AVPD" thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by donavan View Post
there are a lot of similarities between SA and AVPD but there is also a significant difference

similarities

social phobics and avoidants both fear social situations
social phobics and avoidants both feel self concious in social situations
social phobics and avoidants both use safety behaviours in social situations
social phobics and avoidants both avoid social situations

differences

*social phobics may only fear one or a few social situations were as avoidants fear every situation to some degree. even situations that they can torelate they are never truly comfortable in them
*even if the social phobia is the generalized type its still not as generalized as avpd because avpd covers everything from situation to self
*social phobics fear social situations for different reason than the avoidant fears them
*social phobics fear social situations becasue they fear being judged or evaluated negatively by others and they also worry that they will have a panic attack or that they will show physical symptoms such as blushing, shaking etc... wich will prove to be embarrassing
*avoidants fear social situations because they are worried that their real self will be exposed and they they will be rejected as a result of it
*social phobia is to do with fears about performing socially were as avoidant personality disorder is to do with fears about the self and about who you are as a person
*social phobics feel self concious in social situations becasue they are trying to prevent people noticing their symptoms such as blushing, shaking etc...
*avoidants are self concious in social situations cos they are preocupied with trying to hide their real selves, and doing their best not to lose themselves in the moment incase a part of their real self is reveal and that they will be rejected cos their real self is not acceptable
*social phobics safety behaviours are designed to hide physical symptoms of anxiety
*avoidant's saftey behaviours are designed to hide the real self
*avoidants also scan their environment in social situations looking for signs of rejection, ridicule and disaproval from others
*social phobics avoid social situations becasue of fears of having a panic attack or showing signs of anxiety or being embarrased
*avoidants also avoid social situations because of fears of being embarrassed but also becasue of fears of revelaing their selves and being rejected
*low self esteem goes hand in hand with avpd. avoidants have a low sense of self worth and beleive they are inferior and worthless
*social phobics dont nessecarily have low self worth. some might , some might not. social phobia is an anxiety disorder that is seperate to self worth. self worth may become an issue later on due to years of isolation but its a seperate issue to the actaull anxiety. the anxiety may be the casue of it but that doesnt make the slef worth a part of the anxiety
*avoidants not only avoid feared social situations but they also avoid negative feelings and even negative thoughts. they have a low threshold for discomfort/dysphoria. avoidants frequently procrastinate with even trivial everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, starting an exercise regime, brushing their teeth etc... this is not a feature of social anxiety
*social phobia is a fear of situations
*avpd is also a fear of situation but more so a fear of revealing the self

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post #17 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-06-2010, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cedward View Post
AvPD from wikipedia:



I have SA and I can relate with pretty much everything in that list, except that I don't have agoraphobia and I don't feel inferior to others except in social skills. So what makes the difference in SA vs AvPD?
Easiest way to think of SA vs AvPD:

SA = Fear of social situations
AvPD = Fear of close/intimate relationships

Like all mental disorders, there are severe and mild cases of AvPD. SA and AvPD symptoms are so similar because they have a similar effect, which is social inhibition. It's also why most suffers of AvPD also suffer from SA.
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post #18 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-06-2010, 01:00 PM
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SAD "mainly fear social circumstances, while people with AVPD tend to fear close social relationships."
AVPD have a harder time trusting people & feeling unsure about others. SAD have very strong fears & may lack social skills.
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post #19 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 05:42 PM
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I can't imagine having one without the other. With SAD, experience social rejection enough times, this can lead to a distorted self-image (especially if the rejection is perceived, a misperception bound to happen given the heightened sensitivity to rejection) and aversive behavior. With AvPD, having thoughts that you're inadequate or sub-par relative to the world, I'd bet any person would feel some degree of discomfort/anxiety when he/she must confront the world, which leads to anxious behavior. The two are too interrelated to exist on their own. They should be lumped together as one disorder. Or is there anyone here who can identify with one disorder and not at all the other?
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post #20 of 48 (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 06:07 PM
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Or is there anyone here who can identify with one disorder and not at all the other?
Yes, SAD. No AvPD.
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