Can Behavior Modification Help Me Manage My Histrionic Personality Disorder Symptoms?

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Histrionic personality disorder does not make someone a bad person. However, symptoms of it can be off-putting to others. This can lead people with histrionic personality disorder to become isolated. In addiction recovery, this lack of social support can negatively impact people's ability to reach their sobriety goals. Other symptoms of this disorder can also negatively impact their overall wellness.

Fortunately, treatment is available. If you think you may have histrionic personality disorder, reach out to treatment professionals such as the team at Pathways Recovery Center.

Understanding Histrionic Personality Disorder

Someone who struggles with histrionic personality disorder will exhibit a compulsive need to be the center of attention. They may try to accomplish this by doing seemingly outlandish or illogical things. To others, they may appear very dramatic. They may over-exaggerate certain things for the sake of getting attention.

This type of personality can come across as rude or off-putting to others. It can result in the individual losing friends and struggling to make or maintain social connections.

Sadly, people with histrionic personality disorder are not doing these things deliberately. This is simply how their brain works. Their behavior will seem normal to them because this is always the way they've behaved.

Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder

People do not need to experience every symptom of histrionic personality disorder to be diagnosed. However, if someone's behavior generally fits the following examples and categories, they may want to bring this up with their doctor.

Compulsive Need for Approval and Validation

  • Seeking approval and validation from others
  • Feeling as if they are not appreciated as much as they should be by different people in their lives

Obsessive Focus on Appearance

  • Using one's appearance to get attention, even to the point of dressing highly provocatively 
  • Constantly obsessing over one's appearance and comparing it to others
  • Using sexual language or acting sexually in situations where it is not called for or appropriate

Exaggeration of Relationships and Facts

  • Thinking that they are closer friends with certain individuals than they really are 
  • Exaggerating, even to the point of lying about certain details or events to get more attention 
  • Being overly expressive in certain situations by taking the conversation and focus away from others so it can be on themselves

Tendency to Adopt Behaviors and Opinions from Others

  • Having certain people that they admire and adopting their personalities or mannerisms to become more like them
  • Expressing very strong opinions about certain things but struggling to explain why they feel this way

Difficulty With Emotions and Relationships

  • Having emotions that change dramatically very quickly 
  • Struggling to maintain relationships as a result of their behavior 

What Causes Histrionic Personality Disorder?

It's not clear exactly what causes histrionic personality disorder or why it affects some people and not others. However, genetics and one's environment can play a role. Childhood trauma and different parenting styles may play a role in some cases.

For example, maybe someone grew up with parents who paid very little attention to them. Maybe they had no real parental figures at all. It would make sense that they would crave the attention in adulthood that they always yearned for as a child.

This could also go the opposite way. Perhaps someone could have grown up with parents who always made them the center of attention and indulged their every want. This could cause the individual to continue to expect this kind of treatment from others in adulthood.

Who Does Histrionic Personality Disorder Affect?

Histrionic personality disorder can affect anyone regardless of background, gender, ethnicity, or age. However, there are some demographic trends.

For example, histrionic personality disorder does tend to be more common in women than men. It can be diagnosed later in life but is most often diagnosed when the individual is in their late teens or early adulthood. Most professionals wait to diagnose a patient until they are at least 18 because, before then, brain development is still ongoing.

How Is Histrionic Personality Disorder Treated?

This type of personality disorder can make life very difficult for the individual struggling with it. Not only can it affect their various relationships negatively, but it can take a toll on their mental health. Some people may develop anxiety and depression. They may even turn to substance misuse to cope, which will lead to even further problems. 

At Pathways Recovery Center, we help people who struggle with histrionic personality disorder. It can be difficult to get an individual to see that they need treatment because they don't see an issue with their behavior and don't think they have a problem. This does not make them a bad person in any way; this is simply the way that their brain is wired. It can take the encouragement of loved ones to help open their eyes and convince them that they need help.

Therapy Options

Group therapy can be a useful resource in treating this type of disorder. This could include therapy with other people who also struggle with this type of disorder. While an individual may struggle to be able to recognize the signs of this disorder in themselves, it may help if they can recognize it in others first.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be a useful resource. With the guidance of a CBT therapist, a patient will be encouraged to examine how their thoughts affect their actions. This can help them break destructive patterns.

If you've ever come across someone that has to be the center of attention all of the time, you likely found it a little frustrating. Nobody enjoys it when there is a person that wants to make every conversation or social gathering all about them. But you would likely feel differently if you were told that this individual is actually struggling with a disorder and cannot help but act this way because of the way their brain is wired. This is why it is important to continue to spread awareness about histrionic personality disorder. If you're struggling with your mental health or with a substance misuse disorder, our team at Pathways Recovery Center can help. Call (888) 771-0966 today.

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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