Avoidant personality disorder is a separable schizophrenia-spectrum personality disorder even when controlling for the presence of paranoid and schizotypal personality disorders The UCLA family study

It is unresolved whether avoidant personality disorder (APD) is an independent schizophrenia (Sz)-spectrum personality disorder (PD). Some studies find APD and social anxiety symptoms (Sxs) to be separable dimensions of psychopathology in relatives (Rels) of schizophrenics while other studies find avoidant Sxs to be correlated with schizotypal and paranoid Sxs. Rates of APD among first-degree Rels of Sz probands, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) probands, and community control (CC) probands were examined. Further analyses examined rates when controlling for the presence of schizotypal (SPD) and paranoid (PPD) personality disorders, differences in APD Sxs between relative groups, and whether APD in Rels of Szs reflects a near miss for another Sz-spectrum PD. Three hundred sixty-two first-degree Rels of Sz probands, 201 relatives of ADHD probands, and 245 Rels of CC probands were interviewed for the presence of DSM-III-R Axis I and II disorders. Diagnoses, integrating family history, interview information, and medical records, were determined. APD occurred more frequently in Rels of Sz probands compared to CC probands (p<0.001) and also when controlling for SPD and PPD (p<0.005). Two Sxs of APD were most characteristic of the Rels of Sz probands: "avoids social or occupational activities..." and "exaggerates the potential difficulties..." 65% of the Rels of Sz probands who had diagnoses of APD were more than one criterion short of a DSM-III-R diagnosis of either SPD or PPD. This indicates that APD is a separate Sz-spectrum disorder, and not merely a sub-clinical form of SPD or PPD.