What Is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

February 22, 2024

an image of someone dealing with a histrionic personality disorder

HPD (histrionic personality disorder) is characterized by volatile emotions, an inaccurate perception of self, and an intense need for attention. Individuals with HPD frequently engage in dramatic or improper behavior as a means to attract notice.

Understanding Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic personality disorder is a mental condition marked by intense emotional expressions and a strong need for attention. The term histrionic is derived from a word meaning dramatic or theatrical. This disorder typically manifests with superficial emotions and manipulative behaviors, becoming noticeable in early adulthood across various situations.

HPD is one of the ten personality disorders identified in DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), a diagnostic tool for mental health professionals in diagnosing mental disorders. In the United States, personality disorders affect about 9% of the population, with HPD occurring in approximately 1% to 3% of U.S. adults at some stage in life.

Classified under Cluster B personality disorders, HPD is associated with dramatic, highly emotional, or unpredictable behavior and thought patterns.

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Histrionic Personality Disorder Traits

According to DSM-5-TR, five or more of the following histrionic personality disorder symptoms must present for a diagnosis of this personality disorder:

  1. Feels uneasy when not the focus of attention.
  2. Engages in inappropriately seductive or provocative behavior during interactions.
  3. Shows emotions that are rapidly changing and superficial.
  4. Frequently uses physical appearance to gain attention.
  5. Speaks in a manner that is overly impressionistic and lacks detail.
  6. Demonstrates self-dramatization, theatricality, and amplified emotional expressions.
  7. Is easily influenced by others or circumstances.
  8. Overestimates the intimacy of their relationships.

What does histrionic personality disorder mean, though, varies from person to person. Many people with HPD may struggle with routine, act impulsively without adequate forethought, or use threats of suicide as a means of seeking attention.

What Causes Histrionic Personality Disorder?

The exact cause of histrionic personality disorder is not fully understood, but it’s generally believed to stem from a mix of genetic and environmental factors.

  • Genetic influences: Personality traits, which are often inherited from parents through genes, can predispose an individual to HPD. Innate traits or temperament, may increase susceptibility to the disorder.
  • Environmental factors: The environment in which someone grows up, including life events and family relationships, can play a significant role in triggering HPD. This includes the nature of your upbringing and various interpersonal dynamics experienced during formative years.

Beyond this, certain risk factors are associated with a higher likelihood of developing personality disorders like histrionic personality disorder. These include experiences like verbal abuse, childhood trauma, and an increased sensitivity to light and noise.

Histrionic Personality Disorder Treatment

While there is no cure for histrionic personality disorder, people with this condition can still lead fulfilling lives, especially when they participate in psychotherapy (talk therapy). Treatment for histrionic personality disorder treatment may extend to include medications and lifestyle modifications.

Psychotherapy is effective in reducing symptoms of HPD and enhancing relational dynamics. Group therapy and family therapy are usually not advised for those with HPD, though, as the group setting may exacerbate certain symptoms like attention-seeking and symptom exaggeration.

Currently, no medications are specifically FDA-approved for histrionic personality disorder. That said, medications might be used to address associated issues such as mood fluctuations, anger, tearfulness, anxiety, and depression.

Mindfulness practices, yoga, tai chi, and biofeedback, can be helpful for those with personality disorders. These techniques aid in managing internal emotions and can positively impact impulsiveness and emotional reactivity.


How common is histrionic personality disorder?

Histrionic personality disorder is relatively uncommon, affecting about 1% to 3% of the general population, with a slightly higher prevalence in women than in men.

Is confronting someone with histrionic personality disorder helpful?

Confronting someone with histrionic personality disorder is often not helpful. Instead, it may leads to increased defensive behavior and emotional escalation. It’s more effective to approach the person with empathy and understanding, focusing on specific behaviors rather than personality traits.

What is the definition of histrionic personality disorder?

Histrionic personality disorder is defined as a mental health condition characterized by a pattern of excessive attention-seeking behaviors, emotional overreaction, and a desire for approval, often involving inappropriate seductiveness and an excessive need for approval.

How does histrionic personality disorder develop?

Histrionic personality disorder typically develops through a complex interplay of genetic, biological, and environmental factors, including childhood experiences such as inconsistent parental attention or positive reinforcement primarily for outward appearance or specific behaviors.

Get Treatment for Histrionic Personality Disorder at Connections

Getting help from a mental health center that cares and uses science-backed methods can really help anyone dealing with challenges stemming from histrionic personality disorder. At Connections Mental Health in Southern California, we’re here to support you in feeling better and functioning more effectively in your life.

We only take in up to six people at a time for treatment. This way, you get the individual attention you need for your mental health, plus the benefit of support from a small group of peers.

If you’re ready to tackle eating disorders or any other mental health issue, our skilled team will be with you every step of the way. Our treatment program includes different types of therapy, like talking therapies, motivational therapies, counseling, medication management, and holistic interventions.

You can reach out to our friendly team at 844-759-0999 to learn more about getting help dealing with personality disorders or any other mental health issues.

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