Histrionic Personality Disorder – Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a type of Cluster B personality disorder characterized by excessive emotionality and attention-seeking behavior. 

Have you ever met someone who was highly emotional, dramatic, and overtly seductive in their conversation with others? Someone who was too obsessed with their appearance? Someone who couldn’t bear not being the center of attention? Someone who would go to unhealthy and sometimes dangerous levels to draw attention back to themselves?

If yes, chances are you came across someone having Histrionic personality disorder. The term ‘histrionic’ has only become recently relevant. Originally the disorder was referred to as ‘Hysterical personality.’ 

Symptoms of Histrionic personality disorder

Traits Of Histrionic Personality Disorder

According to the Diagnostic Statistics Manual – V (DSM-V), a consistent pattern of attention-seeking behavior and high emotionality from early adulthood is indicative of the disorder. The following personality traits are reflected by people having Histrionic personality disorder:

  •  They are uncomfortable in situations where the center of attention is someone else.
  • Their interactions with other people are marked by inappropriate provocative, and sexual behavior.
  • They showcase a shallow and rapidly shifting flow of emotions.
  • They have an impressionistic style of expression that lacks detail.
  • They consistently use their appearance to bring attention to them.
  • They are dramatic in conversations and show exaggerated emotions.
  • They are easily influenced by people or the environment around them.

It is common for people to have overlapping symptoms of more than one personality disorder. This often leads to doctors diagnosing ‘personality disorder not otherwise specified (PDNOS).’ 

Other disorders that share common traits with Histrionic personality disorders include:

  • Narcissistic personality disorder: This is due to similar narcissistic traits and attention-seeking behavior.
  • Borderline personality disorder: This is due to the intense emotional landscapes that both the disorders share.
  • Dependent personality disorder: This is due to the common symptom of having a strong desire to be near people.
  • Somatic symptom disorder: This is due to the similarity of ways the patient might use their physical ailments to gain attention.

Read more: Somatic Symptom Disorder – Definition, Causes, And Symptoms.

Causes of Histrionic Personality Disorder

Most researchers believe that Histrionic personality disorder results from a combination of genetics and environmental conditions. Childhood trauma and inattentive parenting have also been touted as reasons for developing the disorder. Over-indulgent parenting might also lead to children developing HPD in the future. Moreover, parents who tend to role-model volatile, dramatic, and sexual behavior might also put their children at risk of developing HPD.


Psychotherapy has been widely used as a treatment for Histrionic personality disorder. Supportive psychotherapy, which is non-threatening and reassuring, is a good treatment choice. Through empathetic listening it aims at:

  • reducing emotional distress,
  • improving self-esteem, and
  • enhancing coping skills.

Other than this, psychodynamic psychotherapy that aims at altering the patient’s dysfunctional perspective is used to resolve underlying complicated issues. As per research by Sulz S., mood stabilizers can be used to alleviate symptoms of impulse control.

Disclaimer: The above-suggested medications should only be used after proper diagnosis and discussion with professionals. Unregulated use can be life-threatening.

Read more: Best Online Therapy Platforms – 5 Easy-To-Use And Affordable Sites.


A variety of emotions and invalidating environment contribute to a cluster of personality disorders. For people who suffer from them, life is a difficult balancing of trying to suppress the constant stream of emotions they feel. 

Widespread awareness of these disorders will help about bring a positive change in how the world views them. This will encourage more people to come forward and actively seek the help they require. To continue on the path of awareness, find out more about another widely misunderstood disorder, Narcissistic personality disorder, here.

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