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J Affect Disord. 1999 Aug;54(3):277-82.

Avoidant personality in social phobia and panic-agoraphobic disorder: a comparison.

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  • 1Institute of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Italy.



Avoidant personality disorder (APD) is generally believed to be related to social phobia (SP), especially to generalized subtype. However, it has also been reported to be prevalent in panic disorder-agoraphobia (PDA). In the present investigation, we wished to explore whether APD in each of these disorders has discriminatory features.


We studied 71 SP and 119 PDA patients with state-of-the-art clinical instruments based on DSM-III-R.


The pattern of social avoidance in SP was more pervasive: it was characterized by a higher level of interpersonal sensitivity and greater severity, associated with psychopathology as well as a higher rate of Axis I comorbidity. By contrast, avoidance of non-routine situations characterized APD occurring in the setting of PDA.


Differences in inclusion criteria and comorbidity rates, as well as overlap between different operational disorders, may have influenced our findings.


ADP is operationally broad, and 'avoidant' as a specifier of a personality type is insufficiently precise. ADP captures avoidant traits --which appear secondary to a core dimension such as interpersonal sensitivity--but is basically a heterogeneous condition influenced by the nature of comorbid Axis I disorders.

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