Sad soldier speaking with therapist

Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) is one such personality disorder that can impact a person’s life. Learn more about Solara’s treatment for Veterans.

Mental Health and Wellness

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Mental health is essential for our overall well-being, and when it comes to personality disorders, early detection, and treatment are critical. Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) is one such personality disorder that can significantly impact a person’s life, causing them to avoid social situations, develop low self-esteem, and experience other distressing symptoms. Let’s explore the definition, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Avoidant Personality Disorder, with a focus on the approaches used at Solara Mental Health in San Diego, California.

Definition of Avoidant Personality Disorder

AVPD is a mental health condition that falls under Cluster C Personality Disorders. People with AVPD are characterized by persistent feelings of inadequacy, sensitivity to criticism, and social inhibition. Individuals with AVPD typically have a deep-seated fear of being rejected, criticized, or embarrassed, which can lead to avoiding social situations, even to their detriment.

Causes of Avoidant Personality Disorder

The exact cause of AVPD is unknown, but like other personality disorders, it is thought to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and social factors. Children who have experienced neglect, abuse, or emotional trauma may develop AVPD as a coping mechanism. They may feel that they cannot trust others, and as a result, they may become socially withdrawn and avoid social interactions. Genetics also plays a role, and research has shown that personality disorders may be hereditary.

Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder

People with AVPD experience a range of symptoms that can impact their ability to function effectively in their personal and professional lives. Symptoms of AVPD include:

  • Fear of rejection or criticism
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-isolation
  • Avoiding social situations and events
  • Feeling socially awkward or inept
  • Difficulty making friends or forming close relationships
  • Feeling inferior to others
  • Perceiving criticism or rejection where it is not intended
  • Heightened sensitivity to rejection or criticism
  • Difficulty with intimacy and trust

Diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Diagnosing AVPD requires a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. The diagnostic criteria for AVPD include the following:

  • A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation
  • The individual avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.
  • Is unwilling to get involved with people unless they are certain of being liked.
  • Shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed.
  • Is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations.
  • Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
  • Views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others.
  • Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing

Treatment of Avoidant Personality Disorder

AVPD is treatable, and the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances of recovery. At Solara Mental Health, a range of evidence-based therapies is used to treat AVPD.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that helps people identify and change negative patterns of thinking and behavior. CBT can be used to help people with AVPD identify and challenge their negative thoughts about themselves and others. Therapists may use exposure therapy to gradually expose individuals with AVPD to social situations, allowing them to develop coping mechanisms and gain confidence.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that emphasizes acceptance and change. DBT can help individuals with AVPD develop mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance skills. These skills can help individuals with AVPD cope with difficult emotions and navigate social situations more effectively.


While medication is not a cure for AVPD, it can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with the disorder. Antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) can be prescribed to help individuals with AVPD manage symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Prevention of Avoidant Personality Disorder

While the causes of AVPD are not fully understood, there are some steps that individuals can take to reduce their risk of developing the disorder. Early intervention is key, as individuals who receive treatment for anxiety or depression during adolescence or early adulthood may be less likely to develop AVPD later in life.
Developing healthy coping strategies and learning effective communication skills can also help reduce the risk of AVPD. This can include practicing assertiveness, setting boundaries, and developing a support network of trusted friends and family members.

Additionally, participating in activities that challenge social anxiety can be beneficial. This may include joining a social club or group, volunteering, or taking classes or workshops that involve public speaking or other social interactions. Overall, while it may not be possible to prevent AVPD entirely, taking steps to promote mental health and well-being can help reduce the risk of developing the disorder.

Alternative Therapies for Avoidant Personality Disorder

In addition to traditional evidence-based therapies, some alternative therapies may be helpful for individuals with AVPD. These therapies are typically used in combination with traditional therapies and should not be used as a substitute for evidence-based treatments.

They include:

  • Art therapy: One such therapy is art therapy, which can help individuals with AVPD express themselves creatively and explore their emotions in a safe and supportive environment. Art therapy can also help individuals develop a stronger sense of self-esteem and confidence.
  • Animal-assisted therapy: Another alternative therapy that may be helpful for individuals with AVPD is animal-assisted therapy. This therapy involves working with animals, such as dogs or horses, to develop empathy, trust, and emotional regulation skills. Animal-assisted therapy can also provide comfort and support to individuals with AVPD, who may find it easier to connect with animals than with other people.

While alternative therapies may not be effective for everyone, they can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive treatment plan for individuals with AVPD. Working with a mental health professional is important to determine which therapies may be most helpful for your individual needs and preferences.

Personality Disorders Among Veterans

Personality disorders are fairly common among combat veterans. And many veterans diagnosed with PTSD suffer co-occurring symptoms of other mental health conditions, including personality disorders such as HPT.

Solara Mental Health in San Diego, California, has a contract with VA insurance which allows them to provide affordable mental health services to veterans. Solara offers treatment for personality disorders—including histrionic personality disorder—to veterans in need. With authorization, Solara can also provide transportation, housing, and other accommodations for veterans.

At Solara Mental Health, veterans can receive treatment for a variety of conditions and disorders, including antisocial personality disorder. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options, including what mental health services may be covered by the VA.

Get the Help you Need at Solara Mental Health

Avoidant Personality Disorder can be a challenging condition to live with, but it is treatable with evidence-based therapies. At Solara Mental Health, a team of dedicated professionals provides personalized and holistic treatment to veterans struggling with mental health conditions, including AVPD. By combining therapy and medication, individuals with AVPD can learn to manage their symptoms, develop confidence, and improve their quality of life. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of AVPD, contact us for a confidential assessment and personalized treatment plan.

What Our Clients Say


The Solara program is truly amazing. I’ve never had more clarity or more good energy in my entire life. The attention the physicians and the therapists gave me was outstanding. I feel like they truly understood and addressed my issues, which had consumed my life for years. Thank you all.

Michelle Family

I want to thank you and the entire staff and support system at Solara for taking such good care of my sister. On behalf of my entire family, we want you all to understand that your patience and kindness stretches further than you can see… Thank you, again and again, from the bottom of my heart.

R.M. – Father

If not for Solara Mental Health, I am almost positive that our daughter would not be as advanced in her treatment, and would not have the almost miraculous confident and positive outlook that she has.


The Solara Treatment Program was a life-changing experience for me. To be able to heal in such a beautiful, peaceful environment, with such a terrific treatment team, was so amazingly positive. I have found my true self, again. I thank you and my family thanks you for helping me become the person I was meant to be.

M.P. – Father

Your program provided our daughter with the most masterful therapist we have ever encountered (and we have used many).  She has had an unbelievable ability to see the long-term trajectory of our daughter’s treatment and to approach her treatment in stages that fit where my daughter’s development was.  We can’t say enough positive about her.


We are so grateful to you for the treatment and care you provided our daughter. She is doing unbelievably well now thanks to your program. We will gladly tell anyone we encounter that needs treatment about the wonderful work you do at Solara.


I have never felt better than I do now, since completing your program. The truly caring and supportive staff and the intensive program changed my life. What a neat place to stay for treatment - I love Pacific Beach! I have learned skills and behavior to move forward with my life thanks to you.


The program has given me the tools I needed to really gain stability. For the first time in years - maybe for as long as I can remember, actually, I’m learning how to cope and manage my stressors and triggers. I now believe that I can find some relief and happiness.


The therapists and counselors and really whole team were extremely beneficial to me and my understanding of my issues. The treatment plan they developed was exactly what I needed

Watson Family

Solara’s program was such a positive experience for our mom (and for us)! She had become almost impossible to deal with. Your entire staff was phenomenally supportive and kind and patient with her. We feel like we’ve got our mom back, now.


Even though I’m not religious, I realized when I got sober that for the first time in my life I wanted to explore my spiritual side. I benefited hugely from the individual spiritual sessions that I had with Chris. I’m really grateful for that aspect of the whole treatment experience.


Solara was truly a life-changing experience for me and for our children, because of what you did for my wife! The treatment team was phenomenally supportive and perfect for helping her with her anxiety and depression. We are all now moving forward to put our lives back together and it started with you all in Pacific Beach. Thank you for what you do.

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