What it's Like to Have a Histrionic Personality Disorder

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What it's Like to Have a Histrionic Personality Disorder

All of us want to be validated and feel that we belong. This is what makes us human. Most of the time, people seek validation from others because they can’t get it from themselves / Photo by: rawpixel via 123RF

 

All of us want to be validated and feel that we belong. This is what makes us human. Most of the time, people seek validation from others because they can’t get it from themselves. And there’s nothing wrong with that. However, just like the old quotes say, having too much of anything is bad. In some cases, this could be a warning sign that you have a histrionic personality disorder.

A histrionic personality disorder is characterized by attention-seeking behavior and an excessive flair for the dramatic. This personality disorder, a type of mental condition in which a person has an unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning, and behaving, falls under “Cluster B,” which is generally categorized as being erratic, emotional, or dramatic. Most of the time, people who have HPD base their self-esteem and self-confidence on the approval of others. They want attention. Thus, they often resort to dramatic antics.

According to an article by Verywell Mind, a trusted and compassionate online resource that provides guidance to improve mental health and find balance, HPD affects about 1.8 percent of adults in the US. People who have this kind of disorder have hugely dramatic displays to maintain their status as the center of attention. For instance, they make up stories about extraterrestrials or behave exaggeratedly. They are also easily swayed, which can be linked to their shallow emotional expression and self-centeredness. 

Unfortunately, this personality disorder can be a very difficult condition for someone to live with because they find it difficult to maintain deep social connections. Although they rarely have ill intentions, these individuals may show actions and behaviors that can offend and manipulate others. It is also hard to spot if someone has an HPD, especially because they are often the life of the party and enjoy putting on a show. However, these attention-seeking behaviors can eventually become challenging for others to handle. They can cause personal distress. 

Many people with HPD have normal lives. They can work and be a part of society. However, the severity of this personality disorder may affect their ability to hold a job, stay focused on life goals, or maintain a relationship. Also, they are more likely to have depression because their condition can affect how they handle failure and loss.

Signs and Causes of Histrionic Personality Disorder

Just like other personality disorders, HPD is typically diagnosed by a trained mental health professional. There are no specific tests that are used to diagnose it. Many people with HPD don’t seek out treatment until the disorder starts to significantly interfere or otherwise impact a person’s life. According to an article by Psychology Today, a magazine published every two months in the US, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 defined some symptoms of HPD. This includes feeling uncomfortable when not the center of attention, inappropriately seductive appearance or behavior, overly concerned with physical appearance, rapidly shifting emotional states that may appear shallow to others, excessive dramatics with exaggerated displays of emotion, and many more. 

Up until now, the exact cause of HPD is not known. However, many experts suggest that both learned and inherited factors play an important role in its development. For instance, the tendency for HPD to run in families suggests that it might be inherited. The environment they are living in can also be an influence. This involves the events that occurred while growing up and the relationships they have with their family members and other people. 

Just like other personality disorders, HPD is typically diagnosed by a trained mental health professional / Photo by: Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123RF

 

According to an article by WebMD, an American corporation known primarily as an online publisher of news and information pertaining to human health and well-being, other environmental factors include unpredictable attention given to a child by their parents, positive reinforcement that is given only when a child completes certain approved behaviors, and a lack of criticism or punishment as a child.

Also, several particular factors can increase the risk of developing or triggering personality disorders. This includes neglect or unstable chaotic family life during childhood; verbal, physical or sexual abuse during childhood; low level of education and lower social and economic status; and variations in brain chemistry and structure. 

Treating HPD

Unfortunately, most people with HPD don’t believe that they need treatment. But, in some cases, they might seek help if depression or another problem caused by their actions lead to distress. According to an article by Healthline, an online site that covers all facets of physical and mental health openly and objectively, when this happens, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication can help them. At the same time, they can also undergo therapy.

The most common and effective treatment choice for HPD is psychotherapy, which helps individuals uncover the motivations and fears associated with their thoughts and behaviors. Medical professionals can also help the person learn to relate to others more positively. However, this can also be challenging because they may exaggerate their symptoms or ability to function.

For people who want to offer support to a loved one who has HPD, there are several ways to help them. For instance, set boundaries. Try talking to them about how you will respond to certain behaviors from now on. You can say, “I care about you, but I feel uncomfortable when you make scenes in public. If you throw a tantrum in public, I’ll go home.” It is also important to know when to distance yourself and encourage them to evaluate their actions.

Unfortunately, most people with HPD don’t believe that they need treatment. But, in some cases, they might seek help if depression or another problem caused by their actions lead to distress / Photo by: Josep M Suria via 123RF

 

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