Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic Personality Disorder is a type of Cluster B personality disorder. It is characterized by a pattern of persistent attention-seeking histrionic personality disorder behavior, excessive desire for approval, and emotionality including the histrionic traits of being easily influenced by others, being self-centered, and excessive sensitivity to disapproval and criticism.


A histrionic personality disorder is the subtype of a group of personality disorders. Individuals with this disorder tend to have intense unsteady relationships and misrepresented self-perceptions. Their self-esteem weighs heavily on the approval of others rather than from feeling their own self-worth. These individuals have an irresistible desire to get noticed and they often act histrionically (dramatically) or inappropriately to seek attention from others. The word histrionic itself means dramatic. The histrionic disorder is more common in females than males and observation of onset occurs in early adulthood.

Chart image of histrionic personality disorder

Histrionic Personality Disorder Causes

The causes of histrionic personality disorder are believed that both acquired and inherited aspects play a role in its development.  For example, the predisposition for this personality disorder to fun in families leads one to believe that the disorder may be inherited. The children of a parent having this personality disorder lead one to believe that it might be acquired through learned histrionic behavior.

Some environmental factors may play a role in the development of these histrionic personality traits. During childhood this could be constant disapproval or being given consequences for mistakes and positive reinforcement is only given only when the child performs certain approved behaviors. Unnecessary attention is given to the child and all of this can lead to confusion as to what types of behaviors are acceptable.

Histrionic Personality Disorder Symptoms

  • Showing feelings of being uncomfortable unless you are the center of attention. 
  • Dressing provocatively and being seductive or exhibiting flirty behavior.
  • Rapid shifts of emotions.
  • Manipulating others so you can become the center of attention.
  • Acting very melodramatically like performing in front of an audience with overstated expressions and lacking sincerity.
  • Being excessively anxious with physical appearance.
  • Constant seeking of approval and praise from others.
  • Being susceptible and easily impressed by others.
  • Being extremely sensitive to disapproval and criticism.
  • Having a low level of patience for obstructions and being easily fed up by the routine schedule.
  • Acting without thinking.
  • Making reckless decisions.
  • Being self-obsessed and seldom showing concern for others.
  • Having difficulty maintaining relationships; usually shallow with connections and relations with others.
  • Foretelling or attempting to commit suicide for attention-seeking disorder.

Complications of HPD

Histrionic Personality Disorder can negatively influence an individual’s social life and their relationships with family members because of how the person acts in response to disappointments. People having HPD are at greater risk for developing depression compared to the general population. 

Diagnosis of HPD

If Histrionic Personality Disorder symptoms are present, a physician will take a complete history. There are no specific laboratory or other medical tests to diagnose HPD, but a physician may conduct some medical tests to see if there is an underlying illness causing symptoms of HPD. If no physical causes are found, the physician will more than likely refer the individual to a psychiatrist or mental health professional who is particularly skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists and psychologists will use specifically designed screening and assessment tools to assess a person for a histrionic disorder.

Treatment of HPD

One of the characteristics of Histrionic Personality Disorder is that the individual typically does not accept that they need a treatment plan for HPD. They tend to overstate their feelings and they are displeased from following a routine, which makes it problematic for them to follow a treatment plan for histrionic personality disorder. On the other hand, they might search for help if they develop depression, for example, due to a failed relationship. The following are the types of treatments: 


Psychotherapy is usually the most preferred type of treatment for HPD. The main goal of treatment is to help the individual find out the causative factors of Histrionic Personality symptoms and the fears related to his or her beliefs and behavior and to assist the individual in learning more positive ways to deal with others.


There is no specific class of psychotropic medications to treat a personality disorder. Several types of medication may be prescribed to treat Histrionic Disorder symptoms of mood swings, aggression, anxiety, panic attacks, or depression if they are present and interfere with day-to-day functioning.