Histrionic Personality Disorder: Risk Factors and Symptoms


Reading Time: 3 minutes

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a real, treatable condition that affects less than 2% of people in the United States. Due to the behaviors that can stem from it, people with HPD are often misunderstood. The good news is that treatment can help. But it’s important to know what to look for so that you, or your loved one, can receive the right support for HPD. 

Read on to learn about risk factors and symptoms for histrionic personality disorder. You’ll also take a look at treatment options.

What is HPD?

Histrionic personality disorder, or HPD, is a Cluster B personality disorder. That means that it causes “dramatic” thoughts, emotions and behaviors. HPD is characterized by intense emotions and behaviors to receive attention from others. 

Like all mental health disorders, HPD can interfere with your overall quality of life. It can strain your interpersonal relationships due to high emotionality and desire for attention. HPD can also make it difficult for you to establish a strong sense of self. 

Histrionic personality disorder risk factors

All personality disorders, including HPD, are complex conditions. The causes of these disorders haven’t been well understood. However, experts believe the development of HPD is likely to result from environmental and genetic factors.

Environmental risk factors for HPD include:

  • Early childhood experiences — Traumatic childhood experiences can contribute to developing HPD. These experiences can include inconsistent parenting, lack of emotional validation, or abuse. It can also influence an individual’s coping mechanisms and interpersonal behaviors.
  • Learned behavior — Some individuals develop attention-seeking behaviors to cope with environmental stressors. If these behaviors are supported by others, they can become learned behaviors. It may contribute to the development and persistence of HPD.

Genetic risk factors for HPD include:

  • Genetic predisposition — Individuals with a family history of personality disorders or mental health issues may have a higher genetic vulnerability to developing HPD.
  • Temperamental traits — An individual’s temperament can influence their vulnerability to developing histrionic traits. When combined with environmental factors, certain traits, such as being sensitive or highly emotional, can contribute to the manifestation of HPD.

What are signs & symptoms of histrionic personality disorder that you should know about?

There are several signs and symptoms of histrionic personality disorder that are important to know:

  • Exhibiting attention-seeking behavior — The desire for attention can be present in many individuals. But it’s not always a symptom of HPD. The distinction comes from the persistent and extreme nature of this behavior. The impact on overall functioning should also be considered. For example, individuals with HPD may exhibit provocative behavior in social or professional contexts. It’s possible that their communication style may be overly impressionistic. 
  • Having trouble forming and maintaining relationships — Individuals with HPD often find it difficult to form and maintain relationships due to the characteristics associated with the disorder. For example, they may become overly dependent on others for approval and validation. They can also misinterpret the level of intimacy in relationships. They might believe that connections are more profound than they are.
  • Experiencing rapid mood shifts — A common symptom of this condition is experiencing mood shifts that may seem as if they come out of nowhere. The people around them may notice that their emotions seem short lived and change fast.
  • Having intense emotions in public — People with HPD can also experience strong emotions. It may feel difficult for people with HPD to maintain control over their emotions. They can often express their strong emotions in public.
  • Feeling extremely concerned with how they appear — HPD can make a person worried about their appearance. They may frequently check their clothes, hair and makeup. They want to make sure their looks match their preferences.
  • Using their clothes or appearance to draw attention — Someone with HPD might use their clothes, hair, makeup and other aspects of their physical appearance as a way to attract attention.
  • Acting sexually around people they’re not attracted to — A symptom of HPD is making sexual advances or acting sexually around others. These advances occur regardless of whether they experience attraction to those people.
  • Needing to receive reassurance from others — It’s also common for people with HPD to need frequent reassurance from others. They may often ask for approval or ask questions in hopes of gaining approval.

Lightfully can provide compassionate HPD treatment options in California

We believe in using process-based therapy to show compassion during HPD treatment by treating you beyond your symptoms. The framework of our treatment plans consist of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care

If you or a loved one are considering treatment options, have questions about programs or need help navigating any other steps on the road to recovery, contact our caring Admissions Concierge Team today. 

Connect with Admissions