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Ask the Experts


I'm 27 and since around age 15 I've been anxious and depressed.I used to think I just had Social Phobia but now I think I might have Avoidant personality disorder. I've never had a job for fear of messing up the simplest of tasks. I can't handle any criticisms. Even when I know people are just trying to help, it still feels like a personal attack and I end up crying. I also have trouble trusting people. I have a fear that they'll mock my feelings or tell others about me. Even when they first share embarrassing things about themselves first, I can't get over the fear they'll try to hurt me. I don't have any income. How can I get help?

Answered by: Franklin Schneier

The symptoms you describe do seem to fit with Avoidant Personality Disorder, but they also overlap with symptoms of social phobia and a certain form of depression which is sometimes referred to as "atypical" (even though it is actually not uncommon). Either psychotherapy and/or medication approaches can be very helpful for these problems.

For low cost treatment consider contacting a local hospital outpatient psychiatry clinic, or community mental health center, or mental health training program. Another option is to look for a suitable research treatment study, most likely for depression or social anxiety disorder -- is a good web resource.