Avoidant Personality Disorder Vs Social Phobia Difference

avoidant personality disorder vs social phobia

Social anxiety and avoidant personality disorder share some common features, but they are separate mental health conditions. Because the two conditions appear similar in many ways, it’s not uncommon for people to mistake one for the other.

Sometimes simply getting help is more important than having a specific diagnosis. But some people also find it beneficial to know what’s affecting them. In some cases, the best approach to treatment differs for separate mental health issues, so misdiagnosis can affect treatment and make it harder for a person to improve.

Social anxiety, or social phobia, is a specific type of anxiety 

Avoidant personality disorder is a cluster C personality disorder. Personality disorders are a specific kind of mental health issue where patterns of thought and behavior affect daily life, and those with personality disorders often experience difficulty in professional and personal life because they have a hard time understanding other people and common situations.

Levana Slabodnick, LISW-S, a therapist in Columbus, Ohio, notices one difference between social anxiety and avoidant personality

People with avoidant personality often feel socially awkward and inferior to others. They tend to be very sensitive to criticism and rejection and often avoid making friends or participating in social events unless they are sure of their welcome. Feelings of shame or self-loathing are more strongly associated with avoidant personality than social anxiety. This

Avoidant Personality Disorder Vs. Social Anxiety

A person wearing a scarf

Social anxiety and avoidant personality share an intense fear of

Fear associated with these conditions can present in many ways, such as:

Avoiding social situations

Avoiding interactions with strangers

Low self-esteem

Shyness or timidity around other people

Isolation from others or complete social withdrawal

Debate over whether avoidant personality is a more severe type of social anxiety exists among mental health experts. According to the fifth edition of the 

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