Histrionic Personality Disorder: Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Overview

Dramatic, attention-seeking, highly emotional — by definition, histrionic personality disorder occurs when a person displays these and other behavioral patterns that cause them to show exaggerated emotions and attention-seeking behaviors that affect their abilities to interact with others.

Other names for histrionic personality disorder include “dramatic personality disorder” or HPD.

Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder

symptoms histrionic personality disorderWhile some people naturally have a “dramatic” personality, histrionic personality disorder is a chronic disorder that affects a person’s ability to interact with others and vice-versa.1 This course focuses on the symptoms that are characteristic of histrionic personality disorder and how to distinguish these symptoms from other personality disorders.

This video evaluates the seven key diagnostic criteria for psychiatric professionals to diagnose a person with histrionic personality disorder.2 Some of these HPD symptoms include:

  • uncomfortable with not being the center of attention at all times
  • consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to themselves
  • is easily influenced by others or their circumstances
  • thinks every relationship is more intimate than it truly is

Those with histrionic personality disorder also tend to have symptoms such as having significant problems with impulse control and engaging in overly flirtatious or provocative behavior.

Learners in this course can also learn about the “soft” symptoms of histrionic personality disorder. These are symptoms that affect a person’s life that can indicate they may need to see a medical professional. For histrionic personality disorder, some of these soft symptoms may include frequently finding themselves as the “victim” or “princess” in a relationship. They also may lose their jobs often, find themselves bouncing from romantic relationship to romantic relationship, and have problems finishing projects or their education.3

How Clinicians Classify Histrionic Personality Disorder

Medical experts recognize the definition of histrionic personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.4 Specifically, histrionic personality disorder is a “Cluster B” disorder along with diagnosable disorders such as antisocial, borderline, and narcissistic personality disorders. Often, a person may have a family history of HPD or another cluster B disorder. The course outlines some of the other risk factors that may put a person at a more likely chance for experiencing HPD.

Interventions for Histrionic Personality Disorder

This course covers more than histrionic personality disorder and symptoms, which allows clinicians to gain a deeper understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of this disorder. Condition course, prognosis, and treatments are also covered.

It’s very important for a person with histrionic personality disorder to seek treatments for their condition. Clinicians know those with HPD are at greater risk for major depression, impulsive sexual behavior, substance use disorder, and even elevated risk for suicide attempts. By seeking treatment, a person and their loved ones can ideally reduce these risks.

Some of the interventions or treatments for histrionic personality disorder can include therapy sessions that focus on helping a person adjust their thinking and recognize when they are engaging in overly dramatic or exaggerated behaviors.

While the FDA hasn’t approved medications specifically to treat HPD, doctors may prescribe medicines to treat underlying medical disorders. Examples include medicines that treat anxiety, depression, or impulse-control disorders, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Conclusions

As much as 1.5 to 2 percent of the United States’ population experiences histrionic personality disorder.5 Mental health professionals believe this condition is likely under-diagnosed and there are possibly more patients with the condition who do not recognize their symptoms are part of a defined medical disorder.

Often, patients will seek treatment for anxiety or depression, yet not realize their underlying HPD is what is causing their other symptoms. A person with histrionic personality disorder can also have other cluster B disorders, including borderline or narcissistic personality disorder.5

By expanding education on histrionic personality disorder’s symptoms, risk factors, and treatments, medical providers can better serve their patients. They can assess their risks for harm and educate them on ways to improve their lives and interactions.

Learn more about histrionic personality disorder through our continuing education course that breaks down the key aspects of this disorder including histrionic definition, symptoms, verbal and non verbals, treatment options, and more. You will earn 1.5 CE hours through participating in this course.

Written by Rachel Nall, RN, MSN, CRNA

References:

1Holthausen, B. & Habel, U. (2018). Sex differences in personality disorders. doi: 10.1007/s11920-018-0975-y

2French, J. & Shrestha, S. (2020). Histrionic personality disorder. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542325/

3Lewis, K..C., et al. (2017). Histrionic personality disorder. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_590-1

4Savci, M., Griffiths, M.D. & Aysan, F. (2020). Development and validation of the online histrionic personality scale (OHPS) using the DSM-5 criteria for histrionic personality disorder. doi: 10.1007/s41347-020-00144-9

5Cluster B. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/cluster-b