Histrionic Personality Disorder: What You Should Know

Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by a distorted self-image and unstable emotions and an overwhelming desire to be noticed. People who suffer from this disorder often act inappropriately just to get attention.

Histrionic personality disorder

Many times, those who suffer from histrionic personality disorder are unaware that their actions and way of thinking could be a problem. They have an intense need to be seen, and they frequently act spectacularly or inappropriately to do so.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

The word histrionic means dramatic or theatrical. Self-esteem for those with histrionic personality disorder is based on other people’s approval rather than a genuine sense of self-worth.

One of the “Cluster B” personality disorders, which are characterized by dramatic and erratic conduct, is histrionic personality disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by excessive, extravagant emotional and sexual behaviours for attention.

A person with this disorder may exhibit one of these symptoms:

  • When they’re not the centre of attention, they feel unappreciated or unhappy.
  • Have a “larger than life” presence.
  • choose garish colours or provocative clothes to draw attention to their physical appearance.
  • have a hard time building relationships and can come out as phony or superficial in their interactions with others.
  • Need immediate fulfillment and are easily bored or disappointed.

Personality disorders like histrionic personality disorder are among the least understood mental health conditions.

Several studies about histrionic disorders have revealed many factors that could cause or lead to the development of histrionic disorders:

Genetics: Scientists think Histrionic personality disorder runs in the family and it has an inherited link.

Childhood Trauma: Children who survive traumatic events like child abuse or the death of a loved one could suffer this disorder as an adult because those events could become problematic for them.



Parenting: children with parents who lack proper ways of parenting, who do not set boundaries, and who are inconsistent may develop this disorder.

Dramatic and volatile parents often cause their children to develop a histrionic personality disorder. According to several experts, issues in parent-child relationships contribute to HPD-specific low self-esteem.

How to Diagnose Histrionic Personality Disorder

Healthcare providers don’t diagnose someone with histrionic personality disorder until after they turn 18. This is because a person’s personality continues to evolve throughout child and adolescent development.

Diagnosing this disorder can be hard because the people who suffer from this disorder do not know there is a problem with how they act.

When they do seek assistance, it’s frequently not for the disorder itself but rather for symptoms like anxiety or sadness brought on by the issues their personality disorder has caused, including divorce or failed relationships.

When a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, feels that a patient may have histrionic personality disorder, they usually pose open-ended, generic questions that won’t arouse hostility or a defensive reaction. They ask about matters in order to further clarify

  • Past history.
  • Relationships.
  • Previous work history.
  • Reality testing.
  • Impulse control.

Mental health specialists may request information from the person’s relatives and friends because someone who has HPD may not be aware of their own behaviours.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association serves as the foundation for mental health professionals when making a diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder.

Five (or more) of the following persistent behaviours must be present in order to meet the diagnostic criteria for histrionic personality disorder.

  • the feeling of discomfort when not the center of attention.
  • Provocative or seductive behaviour
  • superficial and shifting feelings.
  • uses looks to gain attraction.
  • speech that is impressionistic and hazy.
  • excessive or dramatic feelings.
  • Suggestible (easily persuaded by others)
  • believes that connections are more intimate than they actually are.



How is Histrionic Personality Disorder Treated?

The preferred form of treatment for histrionic or other personality disorders is psychotherapy (talk therapy).

The purpose of treatment is to assist the patient in discovering the concerns and motivations underlying their thoughts and conduct, as well as to assist them in developing more positive interpersonal relationships.

Other types of psychotherapy that can help are :

  • Group therapy
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Supportive psychotherapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy

Although there are medications for depression and anxiety, which people with a histrionic personality disorder may also experience, there are no medications that can effectively treat personality disorders. Histrionic personality disorder may be easier to treat if these disorders are treated.


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