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People who suffer with avoidant personality disorder (APD) usually have a lifetime aversion to social situations and relationships. Such individuals may have low self-esteem, tend to see only the negative side of things, and express intense fears of rejection or abandonment. Although there is no known cure for APD, this condition can be successfully managed. The primary treatment for avoidant personality disorder is individual psychotherapy, although group therapy, medications, and homeopathic remedies may also prove helpful.
Individual therapy is considered the most successful treatment for avoidant personality disorder because patients can develop a trusting relationship with the therapist over a period of time. Getting APD sufferers to attend group therapy sessions is sometimes difficult due to the nature of the disorder, which generally causes an aversion to crowds and peer groups. Initial evaluation sessions must be carefully and thoroughly conducted to discover important life history details the patient may withhold, perhaps because they are too painful to revisit. perhaps because they don’t occur to the patient to bring up. Forming a rapport with the patient can be challenging, as APD sufferers are typically hypersensitive to criticism and often feel afraid of opening up to others. Therefore early termination of treatment is frequently a problem.
Medications are usually not prescribed as a treatment for avoidant personality disorder except in very acute cases or to treat other symptomatic problems the person is suffering. Anti-anxiety drugs, beta-blockers, and antidepressants should be used sparingly and with caution because they can be addictive, have dangerous side effects, and may actually hinder the patient in his or her ability to share feelings with the therapist. Courses of medication should be short-term and combined with psychotherapy so that patients do not become dependent upon the drugs.
Alternative forms of treatment include relaxation techniques, meditation, breathing therapy and homeopathic remedies. Natural approaches are a desirable option for many APD sufferers because tend not to have harmful side effects and carry no risk of physical drug dependency. Certain homeopathic remedies can help to effectively balance brain chemistry and soothe the physical symptoms associated with anxiety or depression. Homeopathic treatments for avoidant personality disorder include lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, St. John's wort and Passiflora Incarnata. These herbal remedies have properties that can calm patients’ nerves and help them relax. Some clinical studies have indicated herbal remedies can be as effective as some pharmaceutical drugs.
Because APD suffers tend to be afraid of social situations and interacting with strangers, not many organized groups exist to help people with APD. Such people are generally "loners," not "joiners." Self-help books are sometimes very useful in the understanding and treatment of avoidant personality disorder. APD sufferers may also feel more at ease discussing their thoughts and feelings on Internet mental health forums where they can remain anonymous, thus eliminating feelings of embarrassment or fears of being judged harshly by others.