Is This a Personality Disorder?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I have a relative with an avoidant personality disorder. She has lot of problems with very simple daily life things ever since and it has went worse with time. She is in therapy since about 2 years ago but there is not too much improvement. She has a job but apart from that she is very isolated. She is most of the free time alone at home; she has sometimes problems even to go to the supermarket due to the interaction with people. She has not any friends after being living for more than 15 years in the same town and working all this time in the same place

I was reading about the AvPD to understand it better and I have couple of questions.

First, is the AvPD a mental illness? I get confused when read about this in different places.

Second, I have read that this is a chronic disorder, Does it means that a person with this disorder could need treatment and psychological support long life to cope better with daily life? (In the same way than long life drug treatment is needed for many physical chronic diseases)

Thanks

A: You certainly have done your homework, and I know that it is very difficult to have a family member with this type of disorder. Yes, it is an official personality disorder and here is more information on it. It is usually seen as a chronic one.

The most effective treatments are cognitive therapy and a social skill-training group where the specific avoidant behaviors can be dealt with. The find help tab at the top of the page can help.

As a family member I would encourage you to be as supportive as possible and honor the conditions the person struggles with. This means to have tolerance and compassion for them as they struggle to make a connection. It will be these elements in your behavior that will help them most in the long run.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Oct 2012

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Is This a Personality Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/10/05/is-this-a-personality-disorder/