While people with schizoid personality disorder (SPD) and those with avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) both avoid social interaction, those with SPD do so due to disinterest, whereas in AvPD, it is due to anxiety.

People with SPD do not feel the need for relationships. In contrast, those with AvPD may crave relationships but actively avoid them due to intense fear of being judged or rejected.

Additionally, while those with SPD can seem indifferent to criticism, people with AvPD are very sensitive to it.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between SPD and AvPD, including a comparison of symptoms, treatments, and similar conditions.

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SPD and AvPD are similar in that they are both personality disorders. This means they affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in every aspect of their lives over a long period of time.

Another similarity between them is that both conditions cause people to avoid social interaction. However, the motivations for this are different.

Those with SPD passively avoid socializing. They do not feel desire to maintain relationships, so they do not pursue them, resulting in little time spent with others as a consequence.

In contrast, those with AvPD actively avoid socializing. It is a choice that the person makes so they can avoid feeling rejected or judged negatively by others. This may result in the person avoiding new job opportunities, learning new hobbies, or making friends.

Whereas people with SPD prefer to be alone and will generally choose solitary activities, people with AvPD do not necessarily want to be alone. Their fear of rejection limits how much they are willing to share about themselves, which inhibits their ability to form relationships.

The table below shows the symptoms of SPD vs. AvPD side by side:

little interest in social interactionavoids social interaction due to fear of disapproval or rejection
may seem emotionally detached or coldmay seem inhibited or reserved, even in close relationships
indifferent to praise or criticismvery sensitive to praise and criticism
takes pleasure in few activitiesmay avoid things they enjoy due to fear of judgment from others
few strong emotionsstrong feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, or being socially inept
prefers solitary activitiesreluctant to try new activities or take risks due to fear of failure or embarrassment
may have little interest in sex

The process for diagnosing SPD and AvPD is similar. A person may speak with a doctor or mental health professional about their symptoms. They may then assess a person’s personal and social history, asking about their relationships and how they feel about them.

Because personality disorders are present throughout a person’s life, mental health professionals may also find it helpful to hear from relatives or friends who can attest to the symptoms being long term.

If someone has four or more symptoms of SPD or AvPD, and there is no other explanation for them, they may qualify for a diagnosis.


There has been little research on treatments specifically for AvPD, but treatments for social anxiety may help. This includes psychotherapy, or talk therapy.

There are many types of psychotherapy to choose from. An older 2016 review of AvPD treatments found some evidence for cognitive behavioral therapy and schema therapy, but studies are limited.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medications specifically for AvPD, but anecdotal reports suggest that drugs for social anxiety disorder (SAD) may help reduce symptoms.


Currently, there are no specific treatments for SPD. This is because there has been almost no research on treatments for the condition.

A 2018 review of previous studies says there is too little research to make a firm recommendation for psychotherapy, as many of the studies that do exist have low numbers of participants. However, some therapists do support people with SPD.

Medications may also alleviate the symptoms of coexisting conditions, such as depression.

The below conditions have similarities to SPD, APD, or both:

Social anxiety disorder

SAD is very similar to AvPD. It also causes significant fear of judgment, criticism, and rejection, which can lead to avoidance of social situations. Because of the similarities, there is some debate about whether SAD and AvPD are the same condition or on the same spectrum.

A 2020 study found that symptom severity in SAD and AvPD was the same. However, those with SAD reported less distress in their relationships.

Additionally, AvPD tends not to have an identifiable starting point. In contrast, those with SAD may be able to identify an event or experience, such as bullying, that caused their fear.


Autism is a developmental difference in the way people communicate, process information, and behave. It appears in early childhood and can affect people in various ways.

Some autistic people find socializing difficult or tiring, while others may enjoy it but have negative experiences due to the prejudice or ignorance of others. Either of these experiences could lead to anxiety about socializing.

Autism also has significant overlap with SPD. A 2021 study of adolescent autistic and nonautistic boys found that those with a diagnosis consistently had schizoid traits, whereas in those with no diagnosis, schizoid traits were rare.

The authors call for more research on whether SPD is a distinct condition from autism.

Dependent personality disorder

Similarly to AvPD, those with dependent personality disorder (DPD) fear rejection. However, those with DPD also fear abandonment and feel helpless without others. As a result, they seek out relationships with people they feel can protect or provide for them.

Anyone experiencing anxiety or other mental health symptoms can speak with a mental health professional for advice and support.

The sooner someone receives a diagnosis, the sooner they can begin treatments that may improve their symptoms or help them cope.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

Was this helpful?

Comparing schizoid personality disorder (SPD) versus avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) shows similarities and differences. Both are long-term conditions that affect many aspects of life, and both lead to avoidance of social interaction.

However, the motivating factor underlying this behavior is not the same. People with SPD do not seek out relationships due to disinterest, whereas those with APD may want relationships, but have a fear of rejection and judgment.

Other mental health conditions have similarities to SPD, APD, or both. For this reason, it is important to speak with a professional for a diagnosis and support.