Avoidant Personality Disorder vs Social Anxiety

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Home » Blog » Avoidant Personality Disorder vs Social Anxiety

Are you someone who avoids social events or interacting with people because doing so makes you truly uncomfortable? You might be dealing with a mental health disorder that negatively impacts your life, but effective treatment is available. Whether you have avoidant personality disorder vs social anxiety, Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson can help you overcome the disorder and enjoy peaceful interactions with others. 

What is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

The key to understanding avoidant personality disorder vs social anxiety begins with knowing the specifics of each mental health disorder. An avoidant personality disorder drastically affects how a person interacts with others. Many people with this condition are perceived as shy children initially, but later on, they meet the criteria for having an avoidant personality disorder. This mental illness is characterized by an extreme avoidance of interacting socially due to a fear of being judged or rejected as inadequate. It can dramatically affect a person’s ability to be in relationships, hold down a job, or attend school. 


Common symptoms of avoidant personality disorder include the following:

  • Feeling shame about one’s self
  • Feelings of self-hatred
  • Believing the person is inadequate or incompetent in several areas
  • Sensitive to being criticized or assuming that someone is criticizing them
  • Isolating and avoiding invitations to be around others
  • Difficulty holding a job or staying in school
  • Not having close friendships
  • Difficulty maintaining a romantic relationship 

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder with similarities to avoidant personality disorder, but they are two separate diagnoses. Social anxiety, previously known as social phobia, causes a person to have high levels of anxiety related to social events. Approximately 7% of U.S. adults have a social anxiety disorder, which equates to about fifteen million people. The symptoms first appear during childhood or the early teen years in more than three out of four cases. 


Common symptoms of social anxiety may include:

  • Avoiding social events
  • Fear of meeting new people
  • Assumptions that the person will embarrass themselves or be judged negatively by others
  • Symptoms of an anxiety attack when in a social situation, such as shaking, sweating, blushing, numbness, nausea, and wanting to flee the scene
  • Isolating

Similarities Between Avoidant Personality Disorder vs Social Anxiety

Both mental health disorders can have their roots in childhood. Many children who develop anxiety about social interactions or have erroneous negative assumptions about themselves begin a pattern of avoiding other people. Additionally, both diseases cause high levels of anxiety that become so overwhelming that the person needs professional treatment in order to overcome them.

Differences Between Avoidant Personality Disorder vs Social Anxiety

While avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety have symptoms in common, there remains a core difference between the two. People with social anxiety often recognize that their anxiety is not logical, even if they cannot overcome it. A key aspect of avoidant personality disorder is that most people who have it lack the ability to understand their fears are unfounded. They believe wholeheartedly that they are inferior and others share that feeling. Part of treatment involves helping them understand the fault in their thinking.

How are Avoidant Personality Disorder & Social Anxiety Treated?

While these two mental health disorders are different from each other in some ways, they can both be treated effectively by attending a professional mental health program. Treatment for avoidant personality disorder vs social anxiety often has similar approaches. For those struggling to a great degree, residential care may work best. Residential centers provide a safe haven for people to live while they work on healing. Leaving behind the daily stressors that increase a person’s anxiety can set the stage for making real progress. For others, outpatient care done during the day while they still live at home can bring about the desired results. 

A vital part of treating avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety is individual therapy. In particular, both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can prove beneficial. With these types of therapy, a person learns to regulate their emotions and challenge their negative assumptions. As a result, they often experience less anxiety and see themselves in a more positive light. 

Other types of therapy that help both conditions include group therapy, family therapy, and holistic therapy. Additionally, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) can help people who experience high levels of anxiety.

Begin Treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder or Social Anxiety at Montare of Tucson

Whether a person has avoidant personality disorder vs social anxiety, effective treatment is available to them. Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson specializes in treating mental health disorders that negatively impact a person’s life. We provide several types of therapeutic programs designed to help people identify and overcome their symptoms and triggers. Our residential treatment centers offer a comfortable and homey environment where people can leave daily stressors behind and receive round-the-clock care. 

For more information, contact us now and get answers to any questions you have.