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Avoidance refers to the use of automatic or deliberate strategies to escape, prevent, or reduce the intensity of an emotional experience. Avoidance may be either behavioral (e.g., escape) or cognitive (e.g., distraction). Although avoidance may be an adaptive method for protecting oneself from an objectively threatening situation, avoidance may also become a pathological process insofar as it maintains fear of nonthreatening stimuli. Avoidance has been most closely linked to anxiety disorders, but it may be a transdiagnostic process that cuts across mental health disorders. This entry briefly introduces major theoretical approaches to avoidance and types of avoidance and summarizes its relation to the onset and maintenance of anxiety and other disorders.

Theoretical Approaches to Avoidance

Avoidance has been understood both as an automatic process that is ...

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