Although it can be distressing, avoidant personality disorder is a treatable condition, usually consisting of a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
Treating personality disorders can be challenging because they involve pervasive patterns of thinking and behaving that have been present for an extended period of time. Although it can be distressing, avoidant personality disorder is a treatable condition. Treatment is most effective when administered in the form of individually-focused care from practitioners well-versed in personality disorders
Despite its treatability, people with avoidant personality disorder rarely seek professional help, as they intensely fearful of being judged and rejected, and therapy tends to exacerbate these fears. Because of this intense anxiety, people with avoidant personality disorder tend to seek help only when their symptoms become overly distressing and unmanageable or when a loved one encourages them to get treatment.
Without treatment, a person with this disorder can descend into further isolation and experience considerable impairment in academic, occupational and social functioning. This isolation and avoidance may also make people more susceptible to depression and substance abuse.
Avoidant personality disorder treatment usually consists of a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Similar to other personality disorders, psychotherapy is often the first line of treatment for avoidant personality disorder. However, medication may be considered if a co-occurring condition is present, such as depression or anxiety.
Psychotherapy for Avoidant Personality Disorder
Psychotherapy for avoidant personality disorder seeks to provide individuals with an understanding of their maladaptive behaviors and offers insight on how behaviors impact social and intimate relationships. Therapy teaches individuals important social skills and coping mechanisms so they can develop healthier social interactions.
Individual therapy is the most common form of treatment, as people with avoidant personality disorder tend to be fearful of group modalities. Building a solid therapeutic relationship is essential for treatment to be successful, especially since avoidant personality disorder is associated with drop out and early treatment termination.
Cognitive behavioral treatment interventions have been successful in treating avoidant personality disorder. This method of therapy helps individuals alter their thought patterns and develop social skills. Desensitization is another type of treatment that can be effective, as it utilizes behavioral techniques to eliminate a person’s fear response.
Avoidant Personality Disorder Medication
Medications are generally not effective in treating personality disorders due to their persistent nature. However, medication is often prescribed to treat co-occurring conditions such as depression, anxiety and phobias, which are commonly linked to avoidant personality disorder. Antidepressant medications may also be prescribed to help a person reduce their sensitivity to negative responses. For successful treatment outcomes, medication should always be used in conjunction with psychotherapy.
Treating Avoidant Personality Disorder and Co-Occurring Conditions
As mentioned, avoidant personality disorder is commonly linked with other co-occurring conditions, including depression and anxiety. Agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder can also overlap with avoidant personality disorder, as can dependent and borderline personality disorders. There’s also a relationship between avoidant personality disorder and substance abuse, as people may use substances to cope with their symptoms of anxiety and distress. People with co-occurring conditions must be treated concurrently for all disorders to ensure that all issues are addressed comprehensively.
There are no known cures for a avoidant personality disorder. However, treatment can help a person to gain insight and understanding into their thought processes and behaviors while improving their coping mechanisms.
If you or someone you love is displaying symptoms of co-occurring substance use and avoidant personality disorder, you are encouraged to seek help. The Recovery Village has licensed practitioners who are knowledgeable in the treatment of personality disorders. Reach out to a representative today to get started.
Cleveland Clinic. “Avoid Personality Disorder: Management and Treatment.” November 20, 2017. Accessed March 13, 2019.
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