Histrionic Personality Disorder DSM 5 PDF

Access an evidence-based checklist of symptoms to screen for Histrionic Personality Disorder among clients. Download a free PDF here.

By Gale Alagos on May 15, 2024.

Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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What is histrionic personality disorder?

Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) is included among the Cluster B personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). This is categorized among other disorders, including antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. A pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking behavior characterizes HPD. Individuals with HPD often display a high need for approval and may engage in dramatic or inappropriate behaviors to draw attention.

To diagnose histrionic personality disorder, healthcare practitioners refer to specific criteria set by the DSM-5. These criteria include a pervasive pattern of exaggerated expression of emotions, manipulative behavior, and identity disturbance, beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts.

Understanding the complexities of HPD requires an approach that balances empathy with boundary-setting. This ensures the individual feels supported and is guided towards healthier behavioral patterns. Collaborative care involving therapists, patient families, and other healthcare providers can optimize management strategies and improve the quality of life for those with HPD.

Histrionic personality disorder symptoms

When encountering a patient with potential Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), a cluster of behaviors and symptoms are typically observed. Recognizing these as part of a pervasive pattern, not merely isolated or context-specific episodes, is essential. The central symptoms include the following:

  • People with HPD feel uncomfortable in situations where they are not the center of attention. These chronic feelings of discomfort are evident when the person appears ill at ease or is more subdued when not leading the conversation or attracting notice.
  • There's a recurrent behavior pattern where social, professional, or interpersonal interactions are often marked by inappropriate, sexually seductive, or provocative behavior.
  • Emotional expression among clients with HPD tends to be exaggerated but may seem lacking in depth and genuineness. Shallow expression of emotions may change abruptly and are often easily influenced by external factors.
  • Individuals with HPD may often exhibit undue reliance on physical attractiveness to draw others' attention. This can be observed through their meticulous or significant time investment in grooming.
  • Conversations with an individual with HPD are characterized by impressionistic and vague speech, giving revealing insights or a thorough explanation.
  • Personal experiences are often described in a dramatic tone, with emotional expressions characterized by self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expressions of emotion.
  • Susceptibility to influence can be recognized through a notable shift in opinions, behaviors, or emotions directly responsive to others' suggestions or trends.
  • Individuals may describe or assume a sense of intimacy in various relationships—including with healthcare providers—that may not reflect these interactions' true nature or context.

Careful assessment of these symptoms is critical, considering they must deviate significantly from cultural norms for the patient’s socio-demographic background. In a therapeutic setting, symptoms may present challenges; for instance, patients might express a strong need for the practitioner's approval or interpret the professional context as a personal relationship. Establishing clear boundaries and goals is imperative in the treatment plan. It's also important to distinguish these symptoms from similar presentations in other personality disorders and consider any overlapping mental health conditions.

What causes a person to develop this personality disorder?

There is no singular cause pinpointed for HPD. Rather, it is believed to emerge from a complex connection between the following factors, each contributing to the development and manifestation of the disorder.

  • Genetic factors: Research suggests a potential hereditary component in the development of HPD. Families with a history of personality disorders or mental health conditions might have a higher prevalence of HPD, indicating genetic vulnerabilities could play a role. However, identifying specific genetic markers remains a challenge.
  • Psychological factors: Attachment styles, formed during interactions with primary caregivers, may affect personality development. Inconsistent or unpredictable feedback from caregivers and trauma or childhood neglect could contribute to the development of this personality disorder, as individuals seek excessive attention and validation later in life.
  • Environmental and social factors: The environment in which an individual grows up, including their family dynamics, cultural background, and social interactions, also contributes to the development of HPD. Societal and cultural expectations around expression, attractiveness, and behavior can influence personality formation.
  • Psychoanalytic theories: Some psychoanalytic theories suggest that HPD may derive from a fear of loss or abandonment, leading individuals to exhibit attention-seeking behaviors as a coping mechanism. These theories highlight the importance of understanding an individual's emotional history and internal conflicts in the context of HPD.
  • Biopsychosocial model: This suggests that biological predispositions, psychological states, and social environments all contribute to the disorder. This model underscores the complexity of HPD and the importance of a holistic approach in assessment and treatment.

Printable Histrionic Personality Disorder DSM 5 PDF

Download this Histrionic Personality Disorder DSM 5 PDF to help assess those who engage in attention-seeking, frequently theatrical behavior patterns to win approval.

How do healthcare professionals diagnose this disorder?

Diagnosing Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) requires a holistic examination that spans the individual's behavior patterns, emotional responses, personal history, social interactions, and occupational functioning. A critical point is that the associated behaviors must be pervasive, appearing consistently over time in various situations.

A mental health professional takes the following measures to diagnose this disorder:

Clinical interview

The process often begins with a comprehensive clinical interview exploring the patient's medical, psychological, and social history. Interviews are important for ruling out other behavioral or mental health disorders and understanding the patient's life context, all of which could affect the diagnosis or treatment approach.

Use of diagnostic criteria

In alignment with the DSM-5 guidelines, five or more specific criteria must be met to receive an HPD diagnosis. The criteria cover behavior such as consistent attention-seeking, sexual provocativeness, rapidly shifting emotions, strong reliance on physical appearance for attention, and perceiving relationships as closer than they are. Healthcare professionals must cross-verify observed behaviors and patients' reports with these criteria to arrive at a comprehensive differential diagnosis.

Psychological tests

Sometimes, psychological tests are administered to provide additional insights. Tests like the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) or the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) can help evaluate the individual's personality traits and cognitive functioning. However, these tests support and supplement the diagnostic process; they are not standalone diagnostic tools.

Avoiding misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis can be a concern, given the overlapping symptoms among different personality disorders. For example, aspects of HPD overlap with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. It's crucial to differentiate between these conditions, considering each disorder's unique characteristics.

Collaboration with other healthcare providers

A collaborative approach to gaining additional observations and insights from other healthcare providers can be valuable. If available, inputs from previous therapists or providers who have interacted with the patient in different healthcare contexts could lend crucial support to diagnostic accuracy.

Histrionic Personality Disorder DSM 5 PDF example (sample)

We have created a resource to help in diagnosing HPD. Our Histrionic Personality Disorder DSM 5 PDF, adapted the diagnostic criteria from the DSM 5 by the American Psychiatric Association (2013). We have also included sections for further notes to document observations and insights when working with clients.

Check out our sample template by clicking the link below or download it locally as a PDF for easier access.

Download our free Histrionic Personality Disorder DSM 5 PDF example here

Histrionic Personality Disorder DSM 5 PDF example

How to use our Histrionic Personality Disorder DSM 5 PDF?

Diagnosing Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) using the DSM-5 PDF template involves several essential steps. This process ensures a comprehensive review of symptoms, providing an accurate diagnosis to aid in designing an effective treatment plan.

Step 1: Review and familiarize the DSM-5 criteria

The provided template will be structured according to the DSM-5 criteria. Review it to understand how the criteria are broken down and how responses should be recorded.

Step 2: Clinical interview and documentation

Use the template to document observations when working with the client. Gather comprehensive information on the patient's background and perform a thorough mental status examination. Match the patient's behaviors to the DSM-5 criteria for HPD, focusing on regular patterns instead of isolated incidents.

Step 3: Rule out other disorders

Review the patient's symptoms to rule out other personality disorders or conditions with overlapping symptoms. Use the template to differentiate between disorders, clarifying why HPD is the most accurate diagnosis.

Step 4: Summarize findings and develop a treatment plan

Use the observed behavior patterns and criteria match to summarize your diagnostic evidence. Document your findings in the template and use the information to create a patient-centered treatment plan.

How is histrionic personality disorder treated and managed?

Successfully treating and managing HPD requires a balance of strategies aimed at treating personality disorders. Through this, clients can gain insight and develop healthier interpersonal skills. A tailored approach using various therapies and interventions offers the best chance for clients seeking treatment and improving their quality of life.


Individual sessions focus on increasing self-awareness and improving capacities to maintain healthy relationships. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help modify negative thinking and behaviors, while psychodynamic therapy may delve into past experiences to understand current emotional responses. Goals often include teaching coping mechanisms for managing emotions and thoughts that contribute to the disorder.

Group therapy

In group therapy settings, individuals benefit from interacting with others, developing social skills, and receiving peer feedback in a controlled environment. Techniques learned in group therapy can be instrumental in helping them understand and manage their condition, especially as they see how their behavior affects others and how peers handle similar challenges. This can help them deal with interpersonal conflict and build healthier relationships.


While there are no medications specifically approved to treat HPD, medication might be used to address symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder that often occur alongside personality disorders. Care must be taken to monitor the effectiveness and manage any side effects, and medication use should be integrated with psychotherapy for the best outcomes.

Patient education

Educating individuals on the nature and implications of their disorder can be empowering. Understanding HPD encourages proactive management of the condition. It's important to provide clear and jargon-free explanations and strategies to recognize and adjust maladaptive behaviors.

Long-term management

Continuity of care and long-term strategies are vital in managing HPD. Regular follow-ups with mental health professionals can help maintain treatment gains, prevent relapse, and modify the treatment plan as necessary. Ensuring the continuity and consistency of treatment addresses the chronic nature of the disorder and supports sustained health and functioning.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.

Is HPD a lifelong condition?
Is HPD a lifelong condition?

Commonly asked questions

Is HPD a lifelong condition?

With proper treatment and management, an individual with HPD might see a significant improvement in their symptoms. The course of this condition can vary widely among individuals, and long-term management strategies are usually required.

What type of psychotherapy is often used to treat HPD?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy are commonly used, focusing on increasing self-awareness and modifying negative thinking and behaviors.

How is HPD diagnosed?

Diagnosis uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria through clinical interviews, psychological evaluations, and assessment of symptoms and behavior patterns.

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