Histrionic personality disorder can affect many aspects of your life, but with treatment, it’s possible to manage your symptoms.
If you frequently feel the need to be the center of attention, and it’s affecting your life and the way you see yourself, you may have histrionic personality disorder (HPD).
HPD behavior patterns include attention-seeking and exaggerated emotions. If you have HPD, people
With therapy and self-care, you can manage the symptoms of HPD and move toward a better quality of life.
Mental health experts prefer to talk about symptom management and treatment rather than a “cure.”
If you have HPD, you likely feel better about yourself when you have the approval of others. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) can help you shift this mindset.
Therapy helps you develop skills that strengthen your self-esteem. It will also help you live your life without worrying about whether other people will be impressed.
Therapy aims to uncover and address why attention from others makes you feel better about yourself and help you develop techniques to manage and shift these feelings and behaviors.
Some causes of HPD include:
- childhood trauma or adverse experiences in childhood can lead people to develop attention-seeking behavior as a coping mechanism
- learned behaviors from your childhood environment and relationships
Though you can’t change your genetics, your therapist can help you uncover how your past may have shaped how you feel and act now.
Because personality disorders are lifelong, you may want to return to therapy in the future after you’ve completed a set of sessions.
Your symptoms will respond best to therapy when you’re an active participant and willing to build a rapport with your therapist.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you identify and change dysfunctional thinking patterns.
CBT is goal-oriented, structured, and focused on the present day. Participants do homework as part of their treatment.
Psychodynamic therapy is more flexible and open-ended, and it doesn’t include homework. It aims to connect your past experiences to your present behaviors.
If you have a personality disorder rooted in experiences from your childhood, psychodynamic therapy can help shed light on this connection.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT) examines your current relationships.
Like CBT, IPT helps you identify maladaptive thought patterns — specifically when they apply to how you interact with others.
If troubling relationships cause you to experience depression symptoms, IPT can help you change how you participate in those relationships, such as by helping you improve your communication skills.
Looking for a therapist?
- Find a Therapist: Mental Health Resources for Everyone
- American Psychiatric Association’s Find a Psychiatrist tool
- American Psychological Association’s Find a Psychologist tool
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helplines and Support Tools
National Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline Directory
- Therapy in Color
- Therapy for Black Girls
- The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
- Therapy for Latinx
Medications are not a standard treatment for personality disorders. Also,
Doctors sometimes prescribe medication for accompanying conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Various medication options fall into several classes, depending on how they affect your brain.
- antidepressants, often used for depression
- mood stabilizers, often used for bipolar disorder
- antipsychotics, often used for schizophrenia
Scientists say these medications can be helpful for people with these other conditions, but there’s not much research on their effectiveness in people with HPD.
Practicing self-care in addition to your therapy sessions can help you heal and improve your well-being.
Here are some essential elements of self-care:
- Getting enough sleep. Sleep is an important part of your physical and mental health. If you’re not sleeping well, now is an excellent time to focus on making a consistent sleep schedule. Sleep hygiene tips like a screen cut-off time can also help.
- Exercising regularly. Fitness can help improve sleep, reduce stress levels, and increase your overall health and well-being. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)recommends engaging in activities that increase your heart rate for at least 150 minutes a week and strength training at least twice a week. Every little bit helps.
- Practicing mindfulness. Consider using other stress-reduction techniques such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness training, yoga, and reducing stress triggers in your life.
- Eating nutritious food. Self-care wouldn’t be complete without nutrition. You can start small if it’s easier: Try adding one or two healthy foods to your diet a week while reducing portions of less-healthful indulgences, such as foods that are highly processed or contain added sugar.
The diagnosis process begins with a doctor learning about your medical history and doing a physical exam. They’ll do this to rule out any physical condition that might be causing your symptoms.
Next, your doctor can refer you to a mental health professional to see whether you have a personality disorder.
It’s important that you consult with a specialist specifically trained in this area. This is why your family doctor will recommend that you talk with a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Their expertise helps them identify the correct diagnosis as several personality disorders feature dramatic and emotional behavior. They include:
- histrionic personality disorder
- narcissistic personality disorder
- borderline personality disorder
The psychiatrist or psychologist will compare your symptoms to criteria described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5).
Criteria for diagnosis
Consider asking yourself if you experience patterns of behavior that fit into some of the following categories:
- attention-seeking behavior: such as inflating stories or trying to “one-up” other people
- seductive behavior: flirting or dressing provocatively in situations where it’s not appropriate
- fluctuating emotions and extreme reactions: rapid changes in mood and reactions that seem extreme to others given the context
- boastful speech that isn’t necessarily true: pretending to be knowledgeable but missing details to back up your claims
- prioritizing physical appearance: trying to make an impact with fancy clothing, accessories, or hairstyles
- dramatic behavior: for example, exaggerated emotional reactions
- easily suggestible: following trends or adopting mindsets without thinking very much about those choices
- exaggerating relationship statuses: behaving as though a personal connection is deeper than it really is
Mental health professionals diagnose HPD in people who have a history of symptoms from at least five of these categories.
If you have HPD, treatment is available.
You can learn skills to support your self-esteem without the need for approval from others. Your therapist can help you learn techniques to set personal boundaries and help regulate your emotions.
In between sessions, practicing self-care will support your treatment and overall well-being.
Remember, you are important whether or not you’re the center of attention.
Some of your behavior with HPD may create challenges, but it doesn’t have to define you. There is support available for diagnosis and treatment when you’re ready.