Understanding and Treating Histrionic Personality Disorder

Have you or someone you love recently been diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder? If so, you should know all you can about this personality disorder so that you can manage it or help someone that is struggling.

The word “histrionic” means theatrical or dramatic. This disorder tends to co-occur with other personality disorders and is characterized by dramatic, erratic, or overly emotional behaviors.

Keep reading to learn more about this disorder, its symptoms, and the treatment options available.

Histrionic Personality Disorder: The Basics

Typically, someone with histrionic personality disorder depends on others for feelings of self-esteem. They often tend to have a strong desire to get the approval of others and want to be noticed. When they do not receive this approval or attention, they will often behave inappropriately or dramatically in order to get the attention they desire.

Histrionic Personality Disorder is classified as a cluster B personality disorder. Cluster B personality disorders cause difficulties in regulating emotion and behavior. Of these 4 include antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic.

People with histrionic personality disorder tend to have a distorted self-image.

Someone with this disorder may rely on others for self-esteem, meaning that self-worth does not come from their own true feelings. This disorder tends to be more common in women and usually is evident in early adulthood.

Potential Causes

While the exact causes of this disorder are not known, many mental health professionals believe that both inherited and learned behaviors have a role in its development.

For example, the tendency for this disorder to run in families could mean that it could be genetically inherited. However, it’s also possible that a child of a parent with histrionic personality disorder could have learned the behavior. There are other factors involved that could lead to this disorder, as a child may grow up with some confusion regarding what kind of behavior earns parents, and eventually others, approval.

These factors could be that the child received a lack of punishment or criticism, that unpredictable attention was given to the child by the parent, or that positive reinforcement was only given to the child upon certain approved behaviors.

Common Symptoms

Typically, someone with a histrionic personality disorder will have good social skills — perhaps impeccable social skills. However, they may use these skills to manipulate others.

They may also use these skills to make themselves the center of attention. The individual may become uncomfortable if they are not at the center of attention.

Their emotions may shift rapidly, and they may act very dramatically as if they are performing for an audience. They may exhibit exaggerated emotions and expressions but appear to lack sincerity. To get attention, they may dress provocatively or exhibit inappropriate flirtatious or seductive behaviors.

They may constantly be seeking reassurance and approval and may be overly concerned about their physical appearance. Additionally, the individual may seem gullible, allowing them to easily be influenced by others. It may be difficult for the individual to accept criticism or disapproval.

They may be sensitive yet have a low tolerance for frustration. They often get bored by routine and may often start projects without ever finishing them. They often make rash decisions and do not think before acting.

They may exhibit behaviors that seem self-centered, and may rarely show concern for others. This can make it difficult for them to maintain healthy relationships, as others may feel that they are shallow, insincere, or fake. Also, those suffering from this disorder may threaten or even attempt self-harm or suicide to get attention from others.

Diagnosis and Treatments

If the above signs and symptoms are present, a doctor will begin and physical examination of the patient while also reviewing their complete medical history. There are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose personality disorders, but the doctor may choose to run different diagnostic tests in order to rule out any physical illness that could be causing the symptoms. If the doctor finds no reason for the symptoms, then they will refer the patient to a psychologist or a psychiatrist that is professionally trained to diagnose and treat mental illness.

These healthcare professionals will use specially designed assessment and interview tools to evaluate someone for a personality disorder. Typically, those with this disorder do not believe that they need therapy, which can make following a treatment plan difficult. This is especially true if they dislike routine or tend to exaggerate their feelings.

However, those with these disorders often also have feelings of depression, which may be triggered by the loss of a relationship or friendship, or any other issues that their thoughts or behavior may cause, which may make them seek help out of distress. A type of counseling called psychotherapy is usually the treatment of choice for this disorder. The overall goal of this treatment is to help the patient uncover the fears or motivations behind their thoughts and actions.

This can help the patient learn ways to relate and communicate with others in a more positive way. Medication may be prescribed to the patient to treat some of their distressing symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.

Your Guide to Histrionic Personality Disorder

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder, keep the information in this guide in mind. If you have this disorder or know someone who does, treatment is the answer.

Are you looking for a mental health treatment center in San Diego? If so, contact us today to get the help you need.