Medscape is available in 5 Language Editions – Choose your Edition here.


Avoidant Personality Disorder Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: David C Rettew, MD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
Updated: Oct 07, 2015

Diagnostic Considerations

Other diagnoses to consider include the following:

  • Panic disorder with agoraphobia
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Communication disorders
  • Generalized social anxiety disorder: Whether avoidant personality disorder (APD) and generalized social anxiety disorder are distinct entities or are different points along a common spectrum is still under debate.[13] Current evidence suggests that although a high degree of overlap is observed, some qualitative distinctions remain.
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Autistic spectrum disorder

Differential Diagnoses

Contributor Information and Disclosures

David C Rettew, MD Director, Pediatric Psychiatry Clinic, Fletcher Allen Health Care; Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of Vermont College of Medicine

David C Rettew, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Association

Disclosure: Received royalty from Norton Publishers for other.


Michael S Jellinek, MD Chief Clinical Officer, Partners HealthCare System, Inc

Michael S Jellinek, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Alicia C Doyle University of Vermont College of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Caroly Pataki, MD Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Caroly Pataki, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York Academy of Sciences, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. 672-675.

  2. Millon T. Modern Psychopathology: A Biosocial Approach to Maladaptive Learning and Functioning. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 1969.

  3. Schwartz CE, Snidman N, Kagan J. Adolescent social anxiety as an outcome of inhibited temperament in childhood. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 Aug. 38(8):1008-15. [Medline].

  4. Powell VB, Oliveira OH, Seixas C, Almeida C, Grangeon MC, Caldas M, et al. Changing core beliefs with trial-based cognitive therapy may improve quality of life in social phobia: a randomized study. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2013 Jul-Sep. 35(3):243-7. [Medline].

  5. Seefeldt WL, Krämer M, Tuschen-Caffier B, Heinrichs N. Hypervigilance and avoidance in visual attention in children with social phobia. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2013 Sep 22. 45(1):105-112. [Medline].

  6. Kendler KS, Aggen SH, Czajkowski N, Roysamb E, Tambs K, Torgersen S, et al. The structure of genetic and environmental risk factors for DSM-IV personality disorders: a multivariate twin study. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 Dec. 65(12):1438-46. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  7. Reichborn-Kjennerud T, Czajkowski N, Neale MC, et al. Genetic and environmental influences on dimensional representations of DSM-IV cluster C personality disorders: a population-based multivariate twin study. Psychol Med. 2007 May. 37(5):645-53. [Medline].

  8. Grant BF, Hasin DS, Stinson FS, et al. Prevalence, correlates, and disability of personality disorders in the United States: results from the national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004 Jul. 65(7):948-58. [Medline].

  9. Zimmerman M, Rothschild L, Chelminski I. The prevalence of DSM-IV personality disorders in psychiatric outpatients. Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Oct. 162(10):1911-8. [Medline].

  10. Kagan J. Galen's Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature. New York, NY: Basic Books; 1994.

  11. Johnson JG, Cohen P, Chen H, Kasen S, Brook JS. Parenting behaviors associated with risk for offspring personality disorder during adulthood. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006 May. 63(5):579-87. [Medline].

  12. Rettew DC, Zanarini MC, Yen S, et al. Childhood antecedents of avoidant personality disorder: a retrospective study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2003 Sep. 42(9):1122-30. [Medline].

  13. Rettew DC. Avoidant personality disorder, generalized social phobia, and shyness: putting the personality back into personality disorders. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2000 Dec. 8(6):283-97. [Medline].

  14. Beidel DC, Turner SM. Shy Children, Phobic Adults: The Nature and Treatment of Social Phobia. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 1998.

  15. Cox BJ, Pagura J, Stein MB, Sareen J. The relationship between generalized social phobia and avoidant personality disorder in a national mental health survey. Depress Anxiety. 2009. 26(4):354-62. [Medline].

  16. Emmelkamp PM, Benner A, Kuipers A, et al. Comparison of brief dynamic and cognitive-behavioural therapies in avoidant personality disorder. Br J Psychiatry. 2006 Jul. 189:60-4. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  17. Skodol AE, Bender DS, Pagano ME, et al. Positive childhood experiences: resilience and recovery from personality disorder in early adulthood. J Clin Psychiatry. 2007 Jul. 68(7):1102-8. [Medline].

  18. Westen D, Shedler J, Durrett C, et al. Personality diagnoses in adolescence: DSM-IV axis II diagnoses and an empirically derived alternative. Am J Psychiatry. 2003 May. 160(5):952-66. [Medline].

  19. Wong Sarver N, Beidel DC, Spitalnick JS. The Feasibility and Acceptability of Virtual Environments in the Treatment of Childhood Social Anxiety Disorder. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2013 Oct 21. [Medline].

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2016 by WebMD LLC. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.