Treatment Options for Histrionic Personality Disorder
The most common and effective treatment choice for histrionic personality disorder patients is psychological counseling.
However, most people with histrionic personality disorder (HPD) don’t believe that their ways of thinking or behaving are problematic—so they’re unlikely to seek this kind of treatment on their own. They also dislike routine and tend to exaggerate their feelings, both of which make following a mental health treatment plan more challenging.
An individual with HPD might actively seek help if they’re also experiencing anxiety or depression—for instance, associated with a failed relationship or another life challenge linked directly or indirectly to the HPD symptoms.
Psychotherapy to Treat HPD
The most general goal of psychological therapy is to help a person uncover the root cause—the fears and motivations—associated with the HPD symptoms; and to help them learn to relate to themselves and others in more productive and positive ways.
The types of psychological therapy that have been found to be most effective for treating histrionic personality disorder include supportive therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and psychodynamic psychotherapy.
People struggling with histrionic personality disorder who participate in supportive therapy are met with supportive compassion and empathy. In the context of a trusting therapeutic relationship, they are listened to deeply. They are encouraged to express themselves fully, and their concerns are taken seriously by the therapist.
They receive helpful information and advice and are reassured that things can get better, i.e. the HPD symptoms can be resolved, and their quality of life improved.
People with HPD who undergo supportive psychotherapy will likely experience an improvement in self-esteem, improve their capacity for emotional regulation and stress management, and cultivate new healthier coping mechanisms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a structured and goal-oriented form of therapy, in which the veteran takes an active role in the healing process.
With the support of the therapist, an individual learns to track their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors. They explore which beliefs, behaviors, and thoughts cause suffering (i.e., HPD symptoms); and which are productive of genuine health and happiness.
CBT can help people with histrionic personality disorder transform the maladaptive behavior and cognitive processes that manifest as symptoms of the disorder. They’re able to unwind negative thoughts and behaviors and learn healthier thinking patterns and habits.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) are offshoots of CBT that can also be useful in treating histrionic personality disorder.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy explores how a person’s current behavior and/or emotional distress is shaped, often unconsciously, by past experiences and behavioral patterns. For instance, the root cause of histrionic personality disorder may lie in an unresolved childhood trauma whose dynamics have been operating at a subconscious level.
The maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behavior that characterize HPD are linked to past experiences and behavioral patterns formed in childhood. The individual with HPD is then guided and encouraged to explore thoughts, images, and ideas that were previously hidden in their subconscious mind. Through such self-examination, these old patterns can be released.
Medication to Treat HPD
While psychotherapy is the primary form of treatment for HPD, medications may in certain cases, also be prescribed, particularly to treat co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression.
While there’s currently no medication that can treat personality disorders directly, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or antipsychotics may help to manage or decrease specific symptoms. This may enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy, for someone diagnosed with HPD.