Mental Health - Relationships in Recovery - Romantic Relationships

How to Handle Someone with Histrionic Personality Disorder


It can be difficult to deal with the emotions of someone with histrionic personality disorder - but we're here to help. Learn more about this condition, and how to approach it.

Have you ever found yourself feeling overwhelmed when interacting with someone who seems excessively emotional, or attention-seeking? If so, they might be struggling with histrionic personality disorder, a condition characterized by a pervasive pattern of attention-seeking behavior and excessive emotions. 

Join us as we explore effective strategies and support systems designed to address these complex issues, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.

What Is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) is a psychological condition that falls under the cluster of personality disorders characterized by intense emotionality and a pervasive desire for attention. If you or someone you know exhibits a pattern of behavior that includes constant seeking of approval, inappropriate seductiveness, and an excessive concern with physical appearance, it might be a sign of HPD. Individuals with this disorder often experience rapidly shifting and shallow emotions, which can be confusing and overwhelming.

Understanding HPD is crucial, especially as it can significantly influence your behavior and choices, including potential substance misuse. You may find yourself or observe others using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with emotional upheaval or to gain the attention and approval of others. This can lead to a harmful cycle of misuse and addiction, posing serious risks to both physical and mental health.

What Are Histrionic Personality Disorder Symptoms?  

Recognizing the symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) is a crucial step towards understanding and managing this condition effectively. If you or someone close to you is showing signs of HPD, being aware of these symptoms can help in seeking the right support and treatment. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  1. Constant Seeking of Approval: You may notice a continuous need for approval and reassurance from others, which often leads to behaviors that are designed to draw attention.

  2. Inappropriately Seductive Behavior or Appearance: This can include behavior or dressing in ways that are overly provocative or inappropriately attention-seeking, often out of context with the situation.

  3. Rapidly Shifting Emotions: Emotions that change quickly and seem shallow to observers are a hallmark of HPD. You might feel that your emotional expressions do not match the depth of your true feelings.

  4. Excessive Concern with Physical Appearance: There is often an undue focus on physical looks, with considerable time and resources spent on appearance, aimed at attracting the notice and approval of others.

  5. Overly Dramatic, Theatrical Speech and Expression: Speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail can be a sign. You might find yourself or others using grandiose language, but with less focus on conveying clear information.

  6. Easily Influenced by Others or Circumstances: If you or someone you know seems overly suggestible, easily swayed by others’ opinions or temporary circumstances, this could be indicative of HPD.

  7. Misinterprets Relationships as More Intimate Than They Are: There might be a tendency to consider casual acquaintances as close friends or relationships as more intimate or romantic than they actually are.

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What If You Ignore Someone With Histrionic Personality Disorder?

Ignoring HPD individuals can have both negative and positive outcomes, depending on how the individual responds. Here are some common outcomes of ignoring someone with histrionic personality disorder, whether it’s out of irritation or disinterest in the relationship:

  • Distress: People with HPD struggle with self-worth and self-esteem-related issues. If you start ignoring them, they can spiral downwards. They can feel emotionally troubled, distressed, inadequate, and rejected by you.

  • Escalation: It has been seen that sometimes a diagnosed person perceives ignorance as some threat. They take their revenge by engaging in more drama to gain attention. Their aim is to regain your lost attention.

  • Conflicts: If you are in a relationship with an HPD person, ignoring them can cause conflict. Your relationship can be in danger as they can become frustrated and annoyed with you. They can also manipulate others against you to gain attention. 

Ignoring HPD individuals can also have positive outcomes, such as:

  • Adapt: As mentioned, there can be some positive effects of ignoring HPD behavior. When ignorance comes from a person they hold dear, there can be a possibility to change and adapt. They can look for healthier ways to connect with someone close to them.

  • Growth: When an HPD-diagnosed person gets denied attention and engagement, they can grow and become better. It gives them the opportunity to reflect on their behavior and the status of their relationship. They can become self-aware and improve. 

  • Healthy Boundary: Creating a healthy boundary in the relationship with an HPD person is suitable for both of you. It can positively affect them and give them enough space to remain healthy.  

Despite potentially positive outcomes, ignoring a loved one with HPD isn’t considered to be the healthiest route. 

How to Help Someone with Histrionic Personality Disorder

Dealing with a histrionic personality disorder-diagnosed person is not easy. In case the relationship isn’t balanced, it can harm both of you severely. All in all, ignoring them is not a healthy way of helping with HPD, and there are other positive ways to cope with such situations. Below are some ways you can help a person with HPD. 

1. Understand the Disorder 

The very first thing you can do to help someone with HPD is to understand the disorder. HPD is not a common mental health disorder, as only 1 to 3 percent of our country's population is affected by it. By looking into its symptoms, risk factors, and more, you’ll be better equipped to manage relationships with someone with HPD.

2. Consistency Is the Key 

If you’re not clear and consistent in your behavior, a person with HPD can easily get confused. Set clear boundaries so they’re aware of how to act and behave. Since it is you who is setting the boundaries, be clear about it. 

3. Practice Compassion

Validating their emotions and feelings can help them open up about their struggles. Let them know you know what they are going through. Make them aware of it and practice patience and compassion. 

4. Don't Enable Them 

While showing emotional support is important, please do not encourage them by reinforcing their behavior. HPD people thrive on the attention and praise of others. You need to help them become self-reliant and independent. So enabling them is the worst you can do. 

5. Take Care of Yourself  

Living with a histrionic personality disorder diagnosed person is not easy. It mentally, physically, and emotionally drains you. Get support from your family and friends. Do not isolate yourself and seek medical help if necessary. 

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How to Treat Histrionic Personality Disorder?

If you or someone you care about is dealing with Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), understanding the treatment options available can be a crucial step toward recovery. Here's a simplified list of effective therapies that can help manage HPD:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This widely used therapy involves working closely with a certified therapist to examine your thoughts and emotions. CBT helps identify and change maladaptive patterns, allowing you to unlearn certain behaviors and replace them with healthier ones.

Supportive Psychotherapy

This therapy provides you with healthy coping skills and ways to manage symptoms. You'll learn to enhance your self-worth and become more self-reliant, reducing the need for others' attention. It also teaches appropriate behaviors and emotional responses in high-pressure situations.

Psychodynamic Therapy

In this approach, the therapist helps you explore the root causes of your HPD, focusing on problematic relationships and behavioral patterns that contribute to your symptoms.

Group Therapy

Although typically not recommended due to the potential for patients to exhibit exaggerated behaviors, group therapy can be beneficial in certain settings. When conducted among peers with similar conditions, it offers a chance for you to reflect on your behavior and gain insights from others' experiences.

These therapies aim to replace unhelpful behaviors with positive actions and coping skills, guiding you towards a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Get the Support You Need at The Edge Treatment Center

Navigating relationships with someone displaying symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) can be challenging, but understanding and compassion are key. If you or a loved one is struggling with HPD or related substance misuse issues, remember that help is available. 

At Edge Treatment Center, we offer personalized support and mental health treatment plans tailored to individual needs. Don't hesitate to reach out to us; we're here to provide the guidance and care necessary for a hopeful recovery and a brighter future. We’ll help you take the first step toward healing and renewal.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by


The Edge Treatment Center

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Mental Health

Relationships in Recovery

Romantic Relationships

July 4, 2024