Defining the symptoms of histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a difficult task because there is no definitive test for diagnosis and the proposed characteristics are open to interpretation and subject to cultural difference. However, despite these difficulties, the American Psychological Association has established general guidelines for identifying symptoms commonly associated with HPD. These can be divided into four general categories: attention-seeking behaviors, relationship problems, impaired judgment, and comorbid conditions.
Patients diagnosed with HPD experience problems when they are not at the center of attention within a social interaction. This leads to behaviors that attempt to garner attention by any means necessary. Things like dressing provocatively, overtly seductive behavior, self-harm threats and attempts, and over exaggeration are all methods by which HPD sufferers try to draw the focus onto themselves.
People living with histrionic personality disorder often have a difficult time maintaining relationships for several reasons. For one, the condition makes it difficult for sufferers to engage with others on anything other than a shallow emotional level, which often leaves the other party feeling like their interactions are superficial and faked. In addition, HPD patients often have a hard time establishing healthy boundaries in relationships. This can result in an attempt to develop a high level of intimacy too quickly or in relationships where that is discouraged.
Histrionic personality disorder can also cause sufferers to develop poor judgment skills that don’t necessarily promote their best interests and often result in rash, split-second decision making. Additionally, many patients are unusually gullible and influenced by the opinions and desires of other people.
HPD rarely develops on its own. Instead, one or more comorbid conditions are often present, and in fact, it’s these other issues that often initially cause sufferers to seek treatment. Some common ones include other cluster B personality disorders (as defined by the DSM-5), such as borderline, narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders. In addition, other conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety or panic disorders are often observed in HPD patients as well.
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