A person with histrionic personality disorder constantly seeks attention and behaves dramatically. Emotions often seem exaggerated, childish, and false. This is done to get sympathy or attention from others.
Histrionic personality disorder is a pattern of excessive emotionalism and attention seeking. The person with this disorder is usually immature. He or she is dependent on others, is self-centered, and often vain. The person's behavior is intended to gain attention. The person may not even be aware of the abnormal behavior.
A person with histrionic personality disorder: is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attentionmany act in a sexually seductive or provocative wayhas exaggerated emotionsuses his or her physical appearance to draw attentionis easily influenced by othersis constantly seeking reassurance or approval from othersis sensitive to criticism or disapprovalconsiders relationships to be more intimate than they actually are
The cause of histrionic personality disorder is unknown. It may be that learned and inherited traits play a role. The disorder is more common in women than in men.
There is no known prevention for histrionic personality disorder.
Diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder is usually made based on the pattern of symptoms. A full physical examination should be done to rule out physical causes. Psychological testing is sometimes used to help make the diagnosis.
A person with histrionic personality disorder tends to have stormy, and often unsuccessful, relationships. The person may threaten or attempt suicide. Alcohol abuse and drug abuse are also common.
Histrionic personality disorder is not contagious. However, relationships with others are affected by the disorder.
Psychological treatments have been shown to be effective in the treatment of histrionic personality disorder. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and individual psychotherapy. Treatment is aimed at: helping the person relate to others in ways that are more acceptableimproving the person's communication skillsincreasing the person's self-esteemrelearning interaction and thought
The person may be impulsive, depressed, and have wide mood swings. Certain medications can help reduce these symptoms. Medication is used only when the person is also getting counseling. In some cases, when the person is in crisis, a short-term stay in the hospital helps to stabilize the person. This may be necessary, for instance, if the person is threatening suicide, self-mutilation, or other serious behaviors.
Side effects are specific to the medication used, and may include drowsiness or allergic reactions.
A person who is successfully treated for histrionic personality disorder is usually able to function at a high level. He or she will usually be appropriate in social and work situations.
A person on antidepressant medications needs to be monitored frequently for side effects. Blood tests are done to be sure that the medication levels are adequate. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.
Hales, Robert, Textbook of Psychiatry, 2nd edition 1994
The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 1997
Stuart and Sundeen, Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Nursing: 4th edition, 1991
Tierney, Lawrence, editor, "Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 39th edition", 2000
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, 1994