What are the Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Histrionic personality disorder refers to a person's inability to control and understand his or her own emotions, leading him or her to often act overly dramatic. Sufferers constantly seek approval and self-esteem from others, rather than developing healthy internal senses of self-worth. The symptoms of histrionic personality disorder can range in severity and vary between different people, but some of the most common include attention-seeking, seemingly shallow emotions and actions, quickly shifting emotions, and a self-conscious attitude toward physical appearance. Most people who suffer from the disorder are able to manage the problems well enough to function in school or work, but it is possible to experience extreme anxiety and depression that threaten both mental and physical health.

Many of the symptoms of this disorder stem from the person's attention-seeking behavior. She might choose to dress in an especially revealing, provocative manner and wear eye-catching makeup and hair styles. Her behavior may be described as loud, eccentric, or overtly flirtatious in situations that normally would not warrant it. People with extreme histrionic personality disorder may run into major problems when dealing with teachers, friends, coworkers, or bosses.


A sufferer may also emote and speak as if she were acting on a stage in front of a crowd. Such dramatic symptoms of histrionic personality disorder can make a person seem shallow and self-centered, not really caring about others. In addition, emotional states can change almost instantly for no apparent reason. A person can be ecstatic at one moment and severely depressed or angry at the next.

Many of the more subtle symptoms of histrionic personality disorder come out when a sufferer enters a romantic relationship. She might constantly seek approval from her partner, asking about how she looks and what she can do to make the relationship stronger. Her reactions to compliments or criticism are often blown out of proportion, and she may have trouble recognizing the emotional needs of her partner. Many people with histrionic personality disorder have trouble maintaining relationships, and when they do end, sufferers can experience overwhelming anxiety and depression.

Most people who have personality disorders are unaware that they have mental problems, and are therefore unlikely to seek treatment. If major depression sets in or it becomes impossible to deny that social and work relationships are constantly suffering, a person may choose to visit a psychologist. Regular psychotherapy sessions can help patients recognize and understand their symptoms and practice ways of overcoming them. Patients learn how to better discuss their true feelings and pay attention to other people's sentiments. With treatment, an individual can learn how to manage daily life and establish meaningful relationships with others.


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Post 2

Comfyshoes - I know that the histrionic personality disorder treatment requires significant psychotherapy which includes cognitive behavioral therapy.

People with this disorder have to begin to understand that drama is not required to have a fulfilling relationship and developing a level of happiness has to do with shifting their needs and making someone's else's needs more important than their own.

The quality of your relationships does determine your level of happiness and overall satisfaction in life. This is why these types of people are often depressed because they don't know how to function properly in a relationship.

It takes a long time for a patient to get to this realization and many times the histrionic patient actually develops feelings for the therapist because the therapist has to “Rescue” the patient which is how the patient views the therapeutic sessions.

Boundaries and a very non emotional tone are best when dealing with a patient with this disorder.

Post 1

I think that it would really be difficult to be friends with a person with histrionic personality disorder.

Someone that always has to be the center of attention gets old after a while. In addition, if the person seeks to get attention by dressing provocatively or acting inappropriate it would make me uncomfortable especially if my husband was around.

I can see how a person like this would have problems maintaining friendships with persons of the same sex as well as relationships with people of the opposite sex.

Friendships like relationships require a give and take that allows the relationship to foster. If one person in a relationship is doing all of the giving and the other

person is doing all of the taking then the relationship will not be particularly satisfying to the other party and will probably end.

Also with respect to a relationship, there is the same component of give and take and a level of loyalty that is expected when you entered an exclusive relationship.

Acting inappropriate with a member of the opposite sex just to get attention will negatively affect the current romantic relationship that the person is having and this too will likely end.

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