Every so often, people can end up feeling more than just a light touch of performance or social anxiety. This is perfectly natural for us, because being put into situations where we feel we have little to no control at all is one of those things that kicks in our fight-or-flight response. However, this is only acceptable to a certain degree, as there are situations where people are expected to behave normally, even when faced with a little apprehension. One of these situations is when people are around others, such as social gatherings and business meetings. For people that avoid all forms of social contact, the problem may be less a case of social anxiety and more a case of avoidant personality disorder.
APD is one of those mental health concerns that are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but can wreak tremendous havoc on relationships both personal and professional. They tend to be presented as loners, shunning most forms of social contact with others unless they feel that they have absolutely no other choice. This can potentially lead them into dangerous situations if they do not exercise caution, or if the APD is mixed with some other personality traits. A typical sign of APD is the desire to avoid social contact and being inept or awkward during social situations. They also tend to feel a detachment from society in general, sometimes seeing separation and discrimination that aren’t actually there.
The cause of APD is not entirely clear at the moment, though some have pointed out genetics, trauma during social situations, and a poor relationship with one’s social environment as being possible causes. There are some that theorize that genetics and hereditary personality traits are more likely to cause this particular mental health condition than other factors. It is believed that certain mental health characteristics inherited from one’s parents can make a person more susceptible to APD, or more likely to develop it as a side effect of some other psychological disorder. Trauma, particularly the type that occurs during the formative years and the period when personalities are still developing, can also stunt a person’s ability to adapt to social situations enough to become a problem. However, none of these theories have managed to put forward adequate solid evidence to be seen as the most likely cause.
There are also several signs that could point someone as having APD, or is developing the condition. Among them is investment in a fixed fantasy, a self-delusion made of a consistent set of beliefs and perceptions that cannot be verified in reality. A sense of inferiority to others, even when told and presented with definitive proof otherwise, also manifests as a sign of APD. In connection to this, people with APD do not respond well to criticism and judgment, occasionally taking it all as an attack on their person and not on the merits of their work. An interpersonal relationship with someone with APD is highly unlikely, as these people attempt to avoid them whenever possible.
Having APD, however, is not a problem of apocalyptic proportions. Therapy and counseling, particularly in groups, can often help alleviate the problem and aid people in adjusting. Currently, psychoactive medication is not commonly used except to handle potential complications.