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Histrionic Personality Disorder

What is histrionic personality disorder?

The word histrionic means dramatic. People who have this disorder are overly dramatic, and minor situations can cause wild swings in emotions. They fear that people will ignore them or find them unattractive.

How does it occur?

The cause of this disorder is not known. Experts think it may be caused by chemical differences in the brain or nervous system. It might also be related to problems in the family such as abuse, financial stresses, death of loved ones, or mental illness. The disorder usually appears in early adulthood. More women than men have this disorder.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of this disorder include:

  • seeking to be the center of attention
  • dressing flamboyantly or wearing extreme hairstyles
  • acting or dressing sexually
  • exaggerating every action and reaction
  • getting bored quickly and craving excitement and new situations
  • having rapid shifts of emotion that may seem phony
  • being overly trusting and easily swayed by others
  • often feeling sick and telling others about it
  • manipulating others to try to get your needs met
  • believing friendships and relationships are more intimate than they are

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider or therapist will ask about your symptoms and examine you. He or she may also:

  • give you a personality test
  • ask about your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers
  • suggest lab tests to rule out medical problems
  • make sure medicines are not causing or increasing your symptoms
  • rule out other mental health problems.

How is it treated?

Several kinds of therapy may be helpful:

  • psychotherapy
  • group therapy
  • cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT)

Psychotherapy can help you see yourself more clearly. It helps you recognize the effects of your behavior on others. This can help you change behaviors that get in the way of living a satisfying life. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a way to help you identify and change thoughts you have that are not realistic. CBT can make you aware of unhealthy ways of thinking. It can also help you learn new thought and behavior patterns. DBT helps you learn to regulate your emotions, tolerate distress, manage yourself, and be more effective with other people.

Medicine is not used to treat this disorder, but may help if you also have problems with anxiety or depression.

Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or harming others.

When should I seek help?

If your symptoms are seriously interfering with your daily life, seek help from your healthcare provider or a mental health professional. Treatment can make a big difference in the overall quality of your life.

For more information, contact:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-08-09
Last reviewed: 2010-08-09
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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