Treatment can be challenging for individuals with histrionic personality disorder (HPD). Patients with HPD may not believe they need treatment. Though when their personality disorder symptoms begin to create problems in their personal or professional lives, some may pursue treatment to see what is causing these issues. Because depression can occur as a result of a failed romantic relationship or workplace stress, patients with histrionic personality disorder may try to find treatment when they are experiencing depression.
Even though depression can be treated through psychotherapy and psychotropic medications, treating depression alone will not necessarily treat an individual’s histrionic personality disorder symptoms. For this reason, it is important to consult a mental health professional for any psychological disorder that causes problems with mood, behavior or thinking patterns because they are trained to interview and test for the correct diagnosis.
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Medications for Histrionic Personality Disorder
While pharmaceuticals are not a preferred treatment for individuals with histrionic personality disorder, they may assist in decreasing specific symptoms, making it easier to cope. If depression or anxiety occurs with the personality disorder, a primary care provider might prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication to include in part of the historic personality disorder treatment plan. These drugs help to suppress symptoms of the underlying disorder that may have led to the histrionic disorder. Medication may be monitored for abuse because of the potential for using the medication for self-destructive or otherwise harmful behaviors.
Therapy Options for Histrionic Personality Disorder
Therapy with individuals diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder can be challenging because they may exaggerate their symptoms or their ability to function to appear worse than it may truly be. They may be emotionally needy and push the boundaries set by the therapist. Just as with most personality disorders, people living with the disorder might only present themselves to treatment after some situational factor within their lives has made their ability to function effectively nearly impossible.
Psychotherapy is the most common and effective treatment choice for histrionic personality disorder patients. This kind of therapy involves talking to a therapist about feelings and experiences. Psychotherapy can help the therapist determine the reasoning behind the actions and behaviors that are causing problems in the individual’s life. Therapy may be able to help an individual learn how to relate to other people positively, rather than continually trying to get attention from them.
Psychodynamic therapy assists patients in becoming more aware of their feelings. In psychodynamic therapy, therapists aim to help clients identify how their current behavior is informed, often unconsciously, by their past behavioral patterns. Long-term psychodynamic therapy usually targets the underlying issues and may help the patients in decreasing their emotional reactivity.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy can guide the histrionic personalities to think and act more calmly and with more consideration. Cognitive-behavioral therapy trains individuals with HPD to identify unconscious thoughts, to improve impulsive behavior and to develop better problem-solving skills. Behavioral therapy for HPD includes techniques such as modeling behavior to show patients the effect of their theatrical behavior on other people in a work setting. This therapy style is also effective against depression and anxiety disorders, which can co-exist with HPD.
Group therapy is also highly suggested to assist individuals with HPD to work on interpersonal relationships. Groups may help individuals by being placed in a therapy session with other people who are going through the same problems they are. Sometimes it is easier to see the faults in other people before recognizing they are doing the same actions to people in their life. Psychodrama techniques or group role play can assist individuals with HPD to practice problems and to learn to decrease the display of dramatic behaviors.
Family therapy is usually used to support both the family as well as the patient. The family may better understand the patient’s struggles through therapy, and the patient can be made aware of the hurt their behavior may be bringing their loved ones. Family relationships of all types, as well as all the issues that arise as a result of HPD, can be addressed in a supportive, solution-based environment during family therapy.
Treating Histrionic Personality Disorder with Co-Occurring Substance Abuse
Because of the nature of histrionic personality disorder, people affected by it may have difficulty in relationships or may have a hard time coping with major loss in life or failures. Both of these complications can lead to increased risk for depression or anxiety, which are both linked to co-occurring substance abuse. When an individual suffers from co-occurring diagnosis, he or she experiences twice the challenge.
If the individual seeks treatment for histrionic personality disorder while continuing to use illicit substances, they may continue to experience exaggerated needs and other negative symptoms due to their remaining disorder or from the drug use itself. Therapy after detox is the ideal component of treatment for this co-occurring personality disorder and substance use, which may occur in an outpatient setting or in a residential facility.
Behavioral therapies may be the most useful to allow the individual to understand how their current self-destructive behaviors are hindering their treatment, creating worse symptoms. To avoid recurrence of drug use, treatment may involve developing strategies to avoid drug use stimuli, making positive lifestyle changes, finding new hobbies, relying on the support of loved ones and developing action plans in case recurrence of use does occur.
These therapies can help patients set and achieve goals and to learn to use healthy coping and relaxation techniques. Individuals may learn to recognize their negative behaviors and how to make positive direction changes, away from substance use and toward an understanding of the underlying patterns that lead to their personality disorder.
If you are or a loved one needs substance use or co-occurring disorder treatment, The Recovery Village can help. People who have histrionic personality disorder symptoms in addition a substance use disorder can receive help from one of the facilities located throughout the country. Call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.