Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by constant attention-seeking, emotional overreaction, and seductive behavior. People with this condition tend to overdramatize situations, which may impair relationships and lead to depression. Yet they are highly suggestible, easily susceptible to the influence of others.


According to the DSM-5, for a diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder to be given, five or more of the following symptoms must be present:

  • Self-centeredness, feeling uncomfortable when not the center of attention
  • Constantly seeking reassurance or approval
  • Inappropriately seductive appearance or behavior
  • Rapidly shifting emotional states that appear shallow to others
  • Overly concerned with physical appearance, and using physical appearance to draw attention to self
  • Opinions are easily influenced by other people, but difficult to back up with details
  • Excessive dramatics with exaggerated displays of emotion
  • Tendency to believe that relationships are more intimate than they actually are
  • Is highly suggestible (easily influenced by others)


The cause of histrionic personality disorder is unknown, but childhood events and genetics may both be involved. HPD occurs more frequently in women than in men, although some experts contend that it is simply more often diagnosed in women, because attention-seeking and sexual forwardness are less socially acceptable for women than for men.

People with this disorder are usually able to function at a high level and can do well in social and occupational environments. They may seek treatment for depression when their romantic relationships end. They often fail to see their own situation realistically, instead tending to overdramatize and exaggerate. Instead of taking responsibility for failure or disappointment, those with the disorder typically cast blame on others. Because they tend to crave novelty and excitement, they may place themselves in risky situations. Their behavior may lead to a greater risk of developing depression.


The recommended form of treatment for histrionic personality disorder is psychotherapy. That said, therapy for people with this diagnosis is often challenging, because they may exaggerate their symptoms or ability to function. They may also be emotionally needy and challenge the behavioral boundaries set up by the therapist. Therapy should generally be supportive and solution-focused.

Because depression can be associated with failed romantic relationships, patients with histrionic personality disorder often seek treatment when they are experiencing symptoms of depression.