Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a mental health problem that is estimated to affect around 1% of the population. It is characterized by instability of emotions, a false self-image, and an irresistible craving to be noticed. People struggling with HPD frequently display dramatic behavior or act inappropriately to draw attention. A diagnosis of the disorder is based on the presence of a cluster of persistent behaviors. Although individuals with this condition may not know that they have a mental condition, HPD treatment can make significant improvements for many patients.
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What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?
With HPD, an individual’s self-esteem is dependent on approval from other people. The afflicted person does not have a genuine sense of his or her self-worth. The term “histrionic” is defined as dramatic. The individual afflicted with this mental disorder has a compulsion to make himself or herself noticed and frequently behaves dramatically or in other inappropriate ways to draw attention. HPD typically starts in the late teens or early adulthood.
Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder
The primary symptom of histrionic personality disorder is extreme emotionalizing, overt sexual seduction, and other dramatic behavior to attract attention. Other histrionic personality disorder symptoms can include:
- Sudden shifts in emotions
- Superficial emotionalizing
- Speaking and acting dramatically
- Uncomfortable when they’re not the center of attention
- Becoming depressed unless they’re the center of attention
- Extremely expressive emotionally
- An exaggerated personality
- Continuously striving to be charming
- Consistently highly flirtatious
- Hyper-focused on their physical appearance
- Uses appearance to draw attention (wearing bright colors or revealing clothes)
- Acting sexually provocatively when meeting people
- Asserts strong opinions with little factual support
- Naive and easily influenced by other people
- Misinterprets relationships as being closer than they are
- Trouble keeping relationships
- Seeming superficial or shallow in interpersonal interactions
- Sense of need for instant gratification
- Easily frustrated or bored
- Need constant approval or reassurance
What Causes Histrionic Personality Disorder?
Histrionic personality disorder causes are not well understood. Several factors studied might contribute to the emergence of HPD:
- Parents lacking boundaries
- Childhood trauma
- Inconsistent or over-indulgent parenting
- Possible genetic link
- Low self-esteem due to difficult childhood relationship with parents
- Parents were erratic, dramatic, or volatile
- Inappropriate sexual behavior by parents
Histrionic Personality Disorder Diagnosis
Because children have developing personalities, HPD is not diagnosed until age 18. Since patients with the disorder may be unaware of their troublesome behavior, friends and family may be asked for information. If they do seek treatment, it’s likely to be for depression, anxiety, or co-occurring mental health issues caused by problems that were due to HPD.
Diagnosis of HPD is based on the criteria for the disorder identified in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSMMD. To be diagnosed with HPD means five or more of these symptomatic behaviors are present, among other possible criteria:
- Consistently flirtatious or seductive behavior
- Vague and overly-generalized speech
- Shallow and suddenly changing emotions
- Highly impressionable (influenced easily by other people)
- Feel unsettled if they’re not the center of attention
- Exaggerated emotional behavior
- View relationships as closer than they actually are
- Uses physical appearance to attract attention
Histrionic Perso2nality Disorder Treatment
The prescribed treatment for histrionic personality disorder is usually psychotherapy (talk therapy). The goal of treatment is to help the patient examine his or her motivations and fears in relation to the troubling behavior and work on issues in thinking to help the individual better relate to people. HPD treatment may include:
- Group Therapy: Treatment focuses on the origins of psychological and emotional suffering in the patient and difficult patterns in their relationships.
- Supportive Psychotherapy: Therapy helps develop coping skills, manage symptoms, and improve self-esteem. It explores emotional responses, behavior, and relationships.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: CBT helps the client overcome thinking and emotional maladaptation difficulties. The therapy helps the patient make the connection between thoughts and actions and learn healthier thinking and behavioral habits.
There is no medication used for the treatment of this disorder. However, medicines for anxiety or depression, symptoms that HPD patients may exhibit, can help make treatment more manageable.
Outlook for People in HPD Treatment
Ignoring someone with histrionic personality disorder is not the most beneficial approach for families of HPD victims. Talk therapy can help patients obtain more positive outcomes by acquiring deeper insights into their mental health condition. Treatment for HPD can enable people to function occupationally and socially better and often go on to live much more productive and contented lives. Further, families of people with HPD should seek help for relief of stress, depression, grief, and isolation due to HPD in a close family member.
Best Mental Health Treatment – Pathways Real Life Recovery
If you or a loved one is struggling with HPD or another mental health disorder, we provide a therapeutic environment and treatment by some of our region's best mental health professionals. We work with you to develop a stronger sense of confidence and trust and achieve lasting skills and improvement in your quality of mental health.